But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler from Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the ancient past. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth to her son. Micah 5:2
I love the holidays. The rush to buy the perfect gift, the smell of pine boughs, and the sweet taste of sugary treats stir anticipation in my heart. I love the sparkle and shimmer but it is only part of the magic of Christmas. As I prepare for the holidays, setting up the tree, shopping for gifts, and baking scrumptious cookies, a small voice says, “Have you set up the manger, yet?”
When my husband and I were newly weds, he bought me a lovely nativity set. Every year, I pull out each figurine from its foam space, in the original box, and put them in the wooden manger my step-daughter gave to us. Just like when I was a child, I set each piece in its own place. Mary and Joseph are on either side of the baby Jesus, in the manger, and the shepherds are kneeling before the Christ child. The three kings are lined up, outside the stable, bearing their gifts to honor the holy child. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2: 12 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2: 11
The simplicity of this ancient scene warms my heart. It never loses its meaning. This Jesus, who God promised to send, to save our sins, was born in a simple stable. Yet, he was God Incarnate, Prince of Peace, and Lord of Lords.
Just as the star of Bethlehem beckoned the wise men to the Christ child and the angels, singing, announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, Christ tenderly calls us to come and worship him. He is waiting. He promises forgiveness and the right to become a child of God. He promises eternal life to all who believe. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3: 16
Have you set up your manger, yet?
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9: 6