The sign given to the lowly shepherds that first Christmas always baffles me. What was it? Finding a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes? No! That is expected of any newborn. The sign was in the stark contrast. This babe of Bethlehem was the Savior, Christ the Lord, but laying in a manger–a cattle feeding trough! This was something shepherds, out of all the occupations, would instantly recognize and could not miss! The Creator had become a part of his creation; the infinite One, an infant. Heaven’s Majesty was seen in an earthly manger!
Sadly, celebrations of Christ’s coming tends to be associated with commercialization and the consumerism of our celebrity culture. Shrouded by fanfare and preoccupied with the “magic” of Christmas, non-believers cannot readily identify the manger, that mark of our vulnerable love for others. The sign of all those who have come and found Christ as personal Savior and Lord should be no different. Changed by his grace we should be found in humble, sacrificial service to the lost, the last, and the least in our society.
Imagine Jesus who, in today’s terms, was born of a teenage peasant girl in a parking lot. It could have been an unwanted pregnancy; he was considered an illegitimate boy and was a refugee in Egypt! In these ways, He shares in our sadness and is able to sympathize with our family struggles and fears.
Let’s not forget the child that was born then, once heard crying, is made omnipotent king through his dying! Now reigning with a crown, but he was found in a wooden cradle and hung on the wooden cross. Amidst the glamour and materialism of our times we can’t do “away with the manger.” Sacrificial service is still the sure sign that points to Christ in us the hope of glory!
Who are you? sweet little babe, nestled in the hay?
God, I Am, come to earth today!
Why did you come? tender little babe, nestled in the hay?
To die I came, the price of sin to pay!
Whose sin? Precious little babe nestled in the hay?
Yours it was, that brought me down today!
Wonderful birth to a manger he came,
Born in the likeness of humans to proclaim
God’s boundless love to a world sick with sin
Pleading with sinners, ‘Let him come in’!
Wonderful death, for it meant not defeat
Calvary made his brave mission complete,
Bought our redemption and when he arose
He banished forever the last of His foes!
Wonderful name he bears, wonderful crown he wears
Wonderful blessing His triumphs afford,
Wonderful Calvary, wonderful grace for me,
Wonderful love of my wonderful Lord!