Away in a Manger

Christmas is a busy time of year. The “to do” lists fill many pages in our notebook. We stay up late and get up early. The lines at the grocery store are long and the traffic seems crazy – where do these drivers come from? We are cleaning the house, getting ready for guests to arrive, and baking those favorite Christmas cookies. And, then there are always one or two last gifts to purchase and wrap.

Understandably, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed during the month of December. We want to attend the concerts and special parties, decorate the house, and prepare all of the holiday treats (think fudge, caramel popcorn, and peanut brittle).

away_in_a_manger-title-2-still-16x9The book of Proverbs has a word for us during this holiday of Christmas. And the message begins at a manger. Now that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It is interesting that God the Father directed Mary and Joseph to a stable for the delivery of Jesus, God’s Son. A private place, away from people, and surrounded by barn animals. I imagine there were sheep, perhaps a donkey, and 1 or 2 oxen in that stable. These animals provided some warmth in the humble shelter where God’s precious gift was born. But, you know what? Along with the warmth came their animal mess and their animal smell.

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.” ~Proverbs 14:4 (NIV)

I’ve been thinking about my manger (that would be my Texas cottage). My preferences include a clean house, everything in its proper place, the laundry done, and quiet time to read. Enter family and guests for Christmas and I truly believe my idyllic world will blow up in my face. And then, I read that verse in Proverbs multiple times.

This Christmas I want to embrace the Christmas mess. I’m thankful some of our family will be able to spend an extended amount of time with us. We will have the opportunity to build deeper relationships and make memories together. I’d like to have my parents share some of their life stories with us – those personal snapshots are treasures and I want to capture them.

This is a real life proverb – a statement of truth. You can’t have the good without some of the mess. I do expect the dirty dishes and extra clutter will bother me a few times during Christmas but I’d rather have a “messy manger” than find myself sitting alone in a clean, quiet house.

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