Tuesday, December 21

Humble Beginnings

She wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. --Luke 2:7

This weekend Brad and I spent time with our families, commemorating the birth of Jesus. Before we all dove into the food at my grandparents' house, four of my cousins read part of Luke 2 aloud to the rest of the family, and then my grandpa offered a prayer. Luke 2 is quite a familiar passage to us--we've long since memorized it, but this time it sparked some discussion on the drive back home to San Diego.

Brad commented that since he had grown up in a Christian home, his first thought when he hears the word manger is that it is simply where the baby Jesus was placed. Aside from church Christmas programs and table-top nativity scenes, he never really gave much thought to the significans of using a manger as a bed.

I on the other hand, as a farmer's daughter, reflect differently on the setting of the events of that first Christmas. I have been around mangers and hay, barns and stables, and all the not so lovely smells associated with them. To me, Mary and Joseph having to stay in a stable because there was no room at the inn, represents far more than an inconvenience. Part of the amazing part of the Christmas story is that Christ came from a place that was holy and pristine, to a world of sin that was decidedly not pristine.

Our Savior, the Prince of Peace, God of the Universe, spent his first night sleeping on itchy hay, being drooled on by animals. The song "Away in a Manger" paints a quaint little picture of a sleeping baby with the animals respectfully keeping their distance, passively mooing a lullaby. Somehow I doubt this was the case.

I imagine Joseph was probably kneeling in a cow pie as he helped Mary deliver the baby. He was probably swatting away a persistent fly while trying not to panic about the situation. Mary was perhaps sneezing from the hay in between contractions, and the animals probably made all sorts of interesting noises in response to the strangers that had invaded their space. I have a feeling that the cloth they wrapped the baby Jesus in was the same one they had thrown over the back of the donkey for the trip.

I am amazed that Jesus, who was God in flesh, started life in such a humble manner. Jesus began his life naked and uncomfortable, being drooled on by animals. Jesus' life ended in a similar way. As he hung on the cross he was naked, far beyond uncomfortable, and spat upon by men. He began his life in a position of humility, and it ended with him being humiliated. I am in awe of the work done on the cross for the sake of mankind, but sometims I am even more in awe of his humble beginnings and the fact that he chose to start that way so he could reach us on our level in order to offer us future glory.

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