We all know the story in Luke 2. Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem for Caesar’s census and found the inn full. However, someone mercifully allowed them to stay in a stable. Jesus was born there with only an unsanitary feeding trough available as his bed.
Because this story is so familiar, I easily overlook its significance. Instead of consuming and digesting God’s word so that it becomes real and personal, my tendency is to do just what James warns about—look in God’s mirror and turn away without change (Jam. 1:23-25).
So what is God showing me from the story of the manger today?
I am awed by God becoming a baby. That Jesus would voluntarily come to earth in such a form is amazing. (I don’t even want to go back to my teenage years, much less become a baby.) What a gift he gave when he chose to become one of us, accepting all of life’s experiences. Thus, my first response to the story is wonder and worship.
I am also struck by the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice to extend God’s love to mankind. His willingness to live humbly, beginning with his birthplace and crib, models a standard that I am generally unwilling to meet. I am too involved in my rights, my comfort, and my stuff to give them up for others. We women may sacrifice somewhat for our children but beyond that, we generally expect a return. Unless our husbands, family members, and friends do for us, we are not likely to sacrifice much for them and certainly not for anyone beyond that. And I am guilty as charged. My second response is confession and a desire to change.
This Advent I want to give more than material gifts. I hope to give of myself in ways that require sacrifice and humility in awe of the God who slept in a manger. I am asking him to guide me each day to ways of doing just that.
How does this story speak to you?