Away from the Manger
Rev. Jim Henry
The manger has always been very special to Christians because that is the heartbeat. There is where it began on that first Christmas when God came to the manger. Therefore the manger is special to us. Some people treat the manger just a little bit different.
I read about a McDonald's that decided to do a manger scene and they did it with duct tape. The three wise men were from Bart Simpson characters. Jesus was a Japanese character of some form, and Mary was Madonna, wearing a sexy outfit. Well, there was such an outcry that people tore it down and put up something more appropriate.
The manger has always been a place for us to rejoice and, to some people, a place of contention. In San Jose, California, a few years ago they had a manger scene that was city property and some people protested. So they removed the manger scene that had been privately donated. It had not cost the city or county anything. They had in its place a monument to an Aztec god that cost $500,000 of city tax money. Again, people spoke up and, fortunately, they permitted the manger scene to come back.
In another country, there was a Christmas scene with Santa Claus, with baby Jesus, and the reindeer with seven little dwarfs. You get all kinds of contorted ideas about Christmas and Christ and the manger.
For us that is where it began. That is the heart of who we are. If it had not been a manger, there would be nothing else. For us it is special.
What happens sometimes even among Christians, we stop at the manger and it is away "in" the manger but we never get away "from" the manger to remember why Jesus came and what He did.
Today I want us to get away "from" the manger. Being focused on the birthday of Jesus but remembering why He came and moving from His birth to His appearing. Let's look in the Word of God in the Book of Titus, Chapter 2. In this marvelous, marvelous place, Paul is talking to one of his protégés and is telling him why Jesus came. Titus 2:11-14, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Let us pray. Father, thank You and praise You that You appeared and there was a manger, but that you didn't stay in that manger. You moved away from the manger to do something for us that we could not do for ourselves. Now, Lord, let the meaning of the incarnation - of why You came down here and put on our clothes and our flesh to do something for us that we could not do - may that be forever and ever understood today and beyond. I ask that ...
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