The Manger

When our kids were little, they loved playing with a toy farm set. It had a tractor, baby animals, and a hay loft. I still laugh about the time when they were playing and my daughter held up the toy food trough and asked her brother, “Where should we put Jesus’ bed?” Bless those small, churchy, city slickers.

Our farm toy was loved to death and is long gone. High-chairs have been given away, bunkbeds have been dismantled, and we’re finally past braces and birthday sleepovers. The only tangible remainders are a few choice toys and favorite books that I’ve carefully stored away in hopes of grandchildren. Someday.

However, we still call our basement closet “the toy closet”, though it currently holds gift-wrapping supplies and extra blankets. And the place under the stairs will forever be the “hideout”, even though the secret notebooks and flashlights have been cleaned out. The stone half-wall on the side of our porch is still the “drive thru window”, the oak in our front lawn is still “the tag tree’, and I could go on…

I bet you could too. Places, items, songs, and more all take on special meaning when we associate them with a significant person, event, or era. It’s what makes a house a home, a location a landmark, and a moment in time a memory forever. It’s what makes a manger the most famous baby crib ever.

But as I sit in the light of our tree, I’m thinking it’s not quite what makes Christmas.

Similar to the current state of my house, I catch myself living like I’m in God’s history museum. I use one wing for memories, for walking among souvenirs and first-hand accounts of all God has done. Another area is about the future, where I find blueprints and symbols of God’s promises. I convince myself that the Christian life is about cheering myself up by visiting both wings often, but mostly it’s for waiting somewhere in the middle. And while you’re waiting, don’t forget to remind visitors that the renovation is starting soon.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Oh yeah, love. Sometimes, when I’m in my museum mindset, I walk, remember, and wait, but can forget the whole point of God’s Story.

When God came as Jesus, He redeemed our past, ensured our future, and gave everything new meaning. He stayed in Spirit because that’s what true love always wants to do… come closer.

 …and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Matthew 1:23

I look around my home and see plenty of evidence that young kids were here and will likely return.

But “God with us” means much more than Jesus was and Jesus will again. Immanuel says I’m surrounded by I AM. I’m with True Love. Christmas forever.

With God. I know this, but want to understand it better. I want to believe it more. I want to live every minute like it’s true.

Are you with me? Let’s give this final week of Advent an honest start and make that our greatest Christmas wish.

Until next time,


P.S. Want to get caught up on this series? Click HERE.

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