since i have become a shepherd, i have fresh outlook on the Christmas story. so after church on Christmas eve, i had an inspired idea. we'll all go out to the barn and read the story of Jesus' birth by lantern light with the sheep. i imagine the sweet smell of hay, the warm glow of the lantern light, and the gentle presence of our woolly little sheep. i had it partially right. the kids and hubby go along with my plan even though it is pouring rain, cold, and windy. we can't find the camping lanterns so we use our largest flashlights. the wind is blowing out of the south right into the 3 sided shelter of the shed.
yes, the shed smells of the sweet hay... and other things. the animal shelter is not quite as cozy and romantic as i imagined it would be on a Christmas eve. the animals look at us as if to say, "what in the world are you doing here now?" the wind blows damp and cold and the kids say, "hurry! read the story!" they are anxious to get back into the house, next to the fire with a mug of hot cocoa. so by flashlight i read the familiar story in luke,
"...and she gave birth to her first born, a son.
She wrapped him cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn. ..."
i was feeling a little bit disappointed. it was not exactly the lovely Christmas memory maker i had hoped for... but then i realized, that must have been what mary and joseph felt as well, thinking, "was this the way Messiah should enter the world?" and all of Israel looking for a regal king of military might to come and rescue them from rome instead of the gentle savior who grew up to die in our place; to rescue us from the ultimate enemy: sin.
we have made the manger of luke chapter 2 a little too comfortable. the truth is, animal sheds are drafty and smelly, filled with more than sweet smelling hay. it reminds me a little bit of my own heart... where you'll find more than just sweet smelling love, and yet Jesus humbles himself to dwell there as well.
Jesus humbled himself and set aside his deity to become human with all that goes with it.
"Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death - even death on a cross."
the miracle of Christmas ~ God become man ~ for my sake.
oh, my soul. kinda makes my ridiculous pride so... so... well... ridiculous.
forgive me, Lord Jesus. make me humble like you.
perhaps our Christmas eve outing was, in fact, very appropriate after all.
A very Merry Christmas to all of you!
everyday gift: the Christmas manger