A Way in a Manger
“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”
Luke 2:7 (NIV UK)
The Christmas period is a time when many Christians reflect on the mystery and miracle of the incarnation. The carol “Away in a Manger” begins by reminding Christians of the humble beginnings of Jesus’s birth. Despite these lowly surroundings “A Way” or more precisely “The Way” had been born. At his birth God initially called only a small group of lowly shepherds to the manger but there would come a time when God would call all peoples to “The Way”. As Jesus predicted of himself, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32) In the past many attributed the words of this carol to Martin Luther but most now acknowledge that they were written at a later date. However, Martin Luther made a more general point that seems relevant at this time when he said, “Scripture is the manger in which Christ is laid.” If we want to know more about Jesus then we need to come to the only place where he is laid, the scriptures.
The manger is not Jesus, but it is the place where he is laid out before us. As the apostle John wrote about certain aspects of his gospel, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)
Although the exact date of Jesus’ birth is currently lost in the mists of time, Christmas is the period when Christians are reminded that God became a human child so that humanity might become children of God. As the scriptures state, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)
Father, we thank you that Jesus willingly gave up his glory to become a human being so that, by grace through him, we can be given the right to become the children of God.
Study by Eddie Marsh
Grace Communion, Sheffield
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