December 24, 2017

Journey to Bethlehem: At the Manger

On December 24, there are celebrations of all kinds in Christian churches around the world. From the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem itself to tiny congregations of only a few people, the birth of Jesus is celebrated with the words from Luke. “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.”

Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve journeyed with Mary and Joseph from Nazareth, along the Jordan River Valley to Bethlehem. It has been a time to look at what we bring to the journey and what we might be better off leaving behind. The road of life is never as smooth as we might wish. In fact, it is often more like a labyrinth with twists and turns rather than a straight path.

Last week, we paused to be with Mary and Joseph as they arrived in the bustle of Bethlehem and looked for a place to stay. Now, we come to the manger and sit in awe of God’s gift of Love. As Ann Voskamp wrote on Dec. 18 “Christ doesn’t reveal the outcome of what we face, but He reveals to us His Face. This is the gift of Christmas that flickers in the pitch black…Advent means that we meet whatever comes to us — with this brazen belief that it is Love that Comes Down…[Do we prepare for Christmas] by readying the heart to receive the gift of every moment — no matter what the moment unexpectedly holds — as a gift of His love?...No matter the barrenness you feel, you can always have as much Jesus as you want.”

We’ve journeyed with Mary and Joseph and maybe considered our life’s labyrinth this Advent. The truth we believe and live is “the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son. (John 1:14 New Living Translation)

Now we come to the manger to welcome the Holy Child. What is your response to the ‘love come down at Christmas’? What do you bring to the manger?

As Christina Rossetti wrote in her famous poem My Gift:

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,--
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart
Perhaps in 2018 we'll give more of our heart to Christ Incarnate in the world around us and in the people we meet. Perhaps in that way we can give a glimpse to the hurting world that 'Love HAS come down'. 
A new series starts in 2018. See you then.

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