The Manger Under the Tree

DSCN1559 (3)

For some years it has been a custom in our home to place a small Nativity scene at the base of the Christmas tree. There it reminds us of that special gift sent to earth on the first Noel.

As I look into that tiny manger with the Christ Child warmed in the soft glow of the tree lights, I am continually amazed by all that it symbolizes. Embodied in one small baby is the wonder, and glory and mystery of the universe.

Here was a king born in a barn, attended by sheepherders. A Godly being willing to experience all the temptation and feelings of humanity except for hate. A man of paradox, master and servant in one. One man who truly lived a sinless life, yet was a compassionate friend to thieves and prostitutes. Love and goodness so radiated from him that a hardened Roman soldier, looking up at him on the cross, remarked in awed wonder, “Truly this was the Son of God.” (Mark,15: 39)

With a handful of the most unlikely heroes, he changed the face of the world forever. He instituted the concept of respect for women and children and for the helpless and homeless. He is the hallmark of our highest dreams and most noble aspirations. Court systems have based laws of fairness and justice on his teachings. Time is measured from his birth.

His influence is apparent in the greatest historical documents, insuring the rights and dignity of mankind. His handwriting is on the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation.

The religious leaders, gurus, and would-be gods of history lie in dusty graves. Yet, in fulfillment of an eternal promise, his tomb alone remains empty.

All the raging armies, learned theories, religious hypocrisies, and scoffing derision of two thousand years have not been able to diminish his light. His spirit moves on about the world, offering hope to the hopeless and healing to the hurting.

In the power of his name, miracles still happen. Drug addicts and alcoholics turn away from their addictions. Vile and hateful men become loving and kind. People who have fallen in the dust of the world rise up and walk!

This unique, wonderful, mysterious being has changed lives. He has changed mine. And my world is brighter in His light. Now, as I peer through the glowing lights of Christmas, awed wonder, along with that Roman soldier two thousand years ago, compels me to say, “Truly, this is the Son of God.”

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

(Luke 2:11-12)

Trials and Blessings

canoe two men, morning

A few weeks ago I took my grandson canoeing and fishing on a secluded lake. It was fun.  However, we did not catch a fish. We didn’t even get a nibble. I reminded him of the old saying, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

Later we came across another fisherman. When asked if he had any luck, he answered that he had only caught one small bluegill. He added, “You know, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

It seems that every fisherman knows that phrase.

Life is a combination of trials and blessings. We don’t always catch the fish, get the promotion, or get everything we want at Christmas, etc. Yet, God brings us many blessing if we take the time to notice. We have life. We have hope–even hope of eternity. Children laughing, sunshine, birds singing, the capacity for love are all blessings we sometimes take for granted.

Catching fish is fine, but it does not compare with spending time with my grandson. That’s priceless. That’s a blessing.

Have you noticed a blessing today you didn’t think of before?

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17 (ESV)