One solitary manger
Needing some nice Christmas artwork I Googled "Christmas", touchd the "image" button and in a matter of seconds received row after row of colorful, high-resolution Christmas pictures, 403 of them to be exact. There were trees, lights, children, presents, candles, city-scapes, ribbon, reindeer, snow, parades, businesses, stockings, wreathes, ornaments, and food. There were only three nativity scenes. One of them is pictured here. Maybe I shouldn't be shocked that even the holiday that bears his name is light on images that portray him.
So, OK, we challenge a secular culture with it's images and ideals of the Christmas season. We've done the "Keep Christ in Christmas thing", bought the t-shirts and bumber stickers, and lobbied educational, government, and civic entities to permit creches and manger scenes displayed in public places. The PC police play little words games to keep December generic and insure that little children aren't swayed toward a particular creed or value system. Many of us miss the joys of the season in our moaning and groaning about the forces of darkness and how they've stolen Christmas from us. Want some whine with the holiday cheese ball?
God sent one solitary manger to change the world, just as the song suggests. Yes, over two milennia we've gathered some precious symbols and images, hymns, statements, creeds, covenants, writings, and all manner of historical data to preserve and perpetuate the faith that grew out of that stable. Such a profound truth undergirds the simple representation of the nativity scene. God became human. He occupied human flesh and was born in a crude, humble place. So, we treasure the manger because it communicates His great love and care for us.
One solitary manger changed everything. But, it's not the prime representation of Christ to this dark world, a manger scene at Christmas. You see, there's another profound miracle. It is Christ in me. The Lord of all creation, for whom all things were made, the one who holds all things together, the one who is preeminent over all things decided to live in something more crude than a stable. He decided to live in you and me. We are to light and season this world. One solitary manger was enough to declare his birth and life in me. He decided to change the world using us.
One solitary manger was enough for those children in the Middle East to profess Christ and then face beheading because they would not renounce him. One solitary manger was sufficient for the addicted individual to have his life turned around through faith in him. One solitary manger sent the Magi back to their world changed. Every day the fruit of that manger 2,000 years ago touches some special need out there in this dismal world. If that solitary manger actually means anything it's prime pronouncement will be the way the truth of it changed me.
So, this Christmas I'm going to put him on display every way I can---my "Jesus is the Reason" button, my manger tie, the Christmas lapel pin, star sox, five symbols hat (he came, he died, he was buried, he rose, and he's coming again), and my ugly Christmas sweater. I'll live with the fact that there are few nativity scenes out in public these days. And, do everything to insure that there aren't fewer Christians on display out there in it. One solitary manger brought him into this world. His mind and life in us day by day is the reminder than most effectively keeps him fresh in it.
The world is watching. Let's live it this Christmas. And, let the Christ who lives in each of us be what they see.