We don’t know precisely when his birth was – but the Hebrew Scriptures predicted him. He was born in accordance with those Scriptures – he lived, and then he died as the ultimate sacrifice that ended the need for all other sacrifices.
I hope you have experienced the joy of the season with family and friends as you participated in family traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
In my own family, as a child we had a large manger and an exquisite, life-sized, enchanting Baby Jesus. Our task was to do good works for Advent – and with each ‘sacrifice’ we were able to put a single pine needle in the manger to ‘feather the nest’ in preparation for Jesus’ birth. I heard about Santa, but in my young life I had the personal peace and belief that filling that manger was the true source of my joy and fulfillment in the season.
On Christmas Eve, our family gathered and the youngest would lay the Baby Jesus in the manger as the family sang ‘Silent Night’. My father, born in Germany, would sing “Stille Nacht” – and I still hear his voice in my own private late-night reflections every year. After everyone else is asleep, I love to listen to the hauntingly beautiful “Stille Nacht” by Mannheim Steamroller as I remember the beauty and joy of Christmases past and the promise that the season brings to mankind.
As the Polar Express song says, “If you just believe…” It IS a magical time, isn’t it? Most of us in our amazing country do have at least a perfunctory belief in the Biblical miracle which we celebrate at the end of December – but as we go into 2017 most of us will nonetheless leave Jesus in the manger.
We all love the story – but remember, Jesus didn’t stay in the manger. He grew up and lived a life that changed history. It wasn’t his birth – it’s who he was and IS and what he did AFTER his birth that is the most meaningful and life-changing for humanity.
If you love and celebrate the ‘story’, you cannot ignore the fact that it leads to the cross – but thankfully, it doesn’t end there.
To truly embrace the story demands action – will you leave Jesus in the manger after Christmas?
Luke 2:8-14 as quoted by Linus in ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ (King James Version):
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
I’ll leave you with all my best wishes, and with one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Mary, Did You Know?” by the acapella group Pentatonix – every accoustical sound is powered by the human voice:
MERRY CHRISTMAS! (The horse picture isn’t my own – I got it off the internet!)