The Child in a manger. Sentimental Christmas cards and nativity scenes showing a sanitised environment. No poo in sight. Just a manger with some straw, a Child much older than new born, with a strange golden glow around His head, His father holding a crooked staff, and His mother kneeling at the side of the crib. There might be a cow or two and perhaps a sheep or a donkey in the shadows at the back. And above the stable is a bright star. A well-worn picture in our minds.
But whatever the reality of Jesus’s birth, I have been challenged afresh about Who that Child in the manger really is. God incarnate. GOD INCARNATE! Jesus could have come in many different ways and forms. But why a human baby? So that right from the point of conception He could share our humanity, grow up like we did, facing the same issues that we do, showing us the way to eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave…”. No other entrance into our fallen world would have worked in God’s wonderful plan.
But what do we do about the Child in the manger? This divine Baby? We can’t just leave Him there, perhaps in a cupboard waiting for next year. Or in the recycling bin. We have to take Him out of the manger and place Him in our lives, our hearts, our families, our churches. And let Him grow within us, so that we get to know Him in a truly personal way. In the coming year, in the words of the 13th Century prayer, I want to “…see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly”. Day by day.