“Finding the Manger and the Savior this Christmas”
In Luke’s Gospel it is first an angel and then a chorus of angels that tell the shepherds about the birth of the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. Hearing this news, the shepherds run off towards Bethlehem and the manger to find the newborn King. In Matthew’s Gospel, it is the appearance of a star in the sky that brings the wise men looking for the newborn king of the Jews. It is that star appearing over Bethlehem that then led them to the place where Mary and the baby were. At this time of year as we read the story of the birth of Christ, it is only in the gospels of Matthew and Luke that we learn about the events of his birth. But what we read is enough to cause us to bend our knees to worship this gift God has given us, the gift of Himself coming into the world. Yet, it seems more and more that we struggle in our search to find the Christ in Christmas.
Most people who will observe the Christmas holiday have already begun their preparations for the celebration of the season, even if unsure of exactly what the season and the day mean. Stores want us to celebrate buying gifts, and their prayer might well be more for a fix to the supply chain issues rather than worry too much about the issues of sin facing humanity. Restaurants are offering Christmas meals to eat-in, or take-out, whatever your preference might be, without too much apparent thought being given to the bread of life being offered to us in our Christmas worship services. We know there will be parties galore where Santa will be invited, but Jesus will likely be left off the invitation list. These kinds of celebrations lead one to wonder where will we find the Savior and the manger into which he was laid on that first Christmas?
After reading the above, if you’re now wondering where you might find the Savior and his manger this Christmas, I’d like to offer you some thoughts and suggestions:
- Read the story of the birth of Christ as it is told in Matthew (Matthew 1, 2) and in Luke (Luke 1, 2) and spend some time reflecting upon this event and what it says about God’s love and His design that we know His love and the salvation He has prepared for us. The Savior, the son of God, is laid in the manger, just like one of us. It is only as we see God in our midst that we also see His love.
- As you see the many decorations in our community, remember that whether those who decorate know it or not, every decoration has at its heart praise and worship of Christ. Let every ribbon, bow, gift, and carol remind you ultimately of Jesus and the way his birth took place in the small little town of Bethlehem and of how there was no room in the inn for the baby Jesus, but there must be room in our hearts for the Christ child.
- As God has gifted humanity with love in the birth of Jesus, consider how you might share the gift of love with another person this Christmas. The best gift is the one you give away.
- Actually spend the season of Advent preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. Be passionate about recognizing God’s perfect gift to you, and not as concerned that your gifts to others are ‘perfect.’
- Go watch and participate in a Children’s Christmas Pageant so you can experience the wonder of the birth of Christ through the eyes of children. Our pageant will be held on December 12 at 11:30AM in the social hall.
- Make your plans now to worship on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Christ with your brothers and sisters in Christ adoring God for His gift, and peer over the side of the manger to see the Savior born into the world.
- Pray often for God’s Holy Spirit to fill you with joy this season and show you all the ways possible to find the Savior and his manger this Christmas.
My prayer and hope for all of us this Christmas is that we will see the star, hear the angels, and find the gift God gives, the gift of a Savior born among us and placed in a manger to bring God’s love, forgiveness, and salvation to the world.
Look around you my friends and see the heavens and earth preparing to praise God for the gift of His Son. May we peer over the side of the manger, at all the ribbons and bows, the lights on the tree, the cross on the altar, and hear the words of the angel saying “Do not be afraid! I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem! You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger.” (The Living Bible, Luke 2:10b, 11-12)
May this Christmas be the Christmas that takes your breath away as you see the Savior in the manger and realize all that God has done. Merry Christmas, to one and all!
Pastor Butler +