Laid in a Manger

Luke’s description of what happened on that first Christmas is by far the sweetest rendition of the Nativity that you could ever read. Perhaps that is grounded in our many, many Christmas Eve services, where we heard it read aloud. Perhaps it was read to us in our homes by our grandmothers in the King James translation. There is a good chance that when you read it, the voice of a very serious little boy named Linus will speak in your memories of childhood Christmases gone by. (By the way, an article in The Smithsonian Magazine reveals that two of the co-creators of ”A Charlie Brown Christmas” balked at the inclusion of Scripture in the show, but Charles Schulz insisted that it remain.)

So let us read Luke 2 again, as the days until Christmas now number in single digits:

Luke 2 (New Revised Standard Version)

 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

We will continue this passage in our last devotional before Christmas, but let us pause at the manger and ponder this. It is such a simple story, one that begins with a country’s routine taxation system and ends in glory. No wonder people were amazed. Who would have thought that the long-awaited Messiah would be born of unmarried parents in such ignominy? How could the world have envisioned its Savior being laid in a dirty manger used for feeding barnyard animals? This story is surprising at every turn. And the unfortunate location of Jesus’ birth raises the same question for us every year: is there room in your inn for the Christ Child? Is there room in your heart, room in your expectations, room in your bank account, and room in your compassion for an refugee infant born so far from home?

And so before we get to the awestruck shepherds and the glories of the heavenly host, let us renew our passion for making room for everything and everyone that Jesus came to save. Where is God calling you to shine his light in somebody’s darkness? Make room.

Beach Tree by Michelle Robertson

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