Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Stinky Wooden Manger

I've been leading my girls through an Advent study called "Truth in the Tinsel."  Each day, we read a small piece of the Nativity story in the Bible and talk about it, and then wrap it up with a simple craft we do together.  This week one of the days was about the manger.

I think that particular day's study grabbed my kids' hearts as strongly as it grabbed mine.

We read Luke 2:1-7, focusing on verse 7--"She gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."

Kid 2: "Mommy, what's an inn?"

Me: "It's like a hotel where people stay when they travel. It's like a hotel. Do you remember why it was so full of people?"

Kid 1: "Yeah, because of the senses."

Me: "Right--the census--all the people had to be counted."

Kid 2: "Why did she wrap her baby in cloths?"

Me: "Probably because she didn't have a soft blanket for him."

Kid 2: "What's a manger?"

Me: "It's a wooden box-like thing that people use to feed animals like horses and pigs."

Kid 2: "Why would she put him in there?  It was probably stinky."

Yeah, it probably was.  Day in and day out, some farmer slopped animal food in there for the creatures that lived in his stable.  I'm sure it wasn't sanitized.  It wasn't soft and cozy.  Perhaps being in Haiti has given us some added perspective on this part of the Christmas story.  We know those dusty roads like the ones Joseph and Mary traveled on.  We have seen the crowded city with sewage on the streets.  Wandering pigs, goats, horses, dogs and ROOSTERS are commonplace here and we have come to recognize their sounds and smell.  Maybe all of this brought this verse to life for us this week.

I talked with them about their baby bed and how it compared to Jesus' manger.  It was easy for them to remember their crib--it's the same one their little sister sleeps in.  Soft mattress.  Clean sheet.  Cozy blanket.  They'd still climb in there if I let them!

Jesus' glory was hidden at the time of his birth--except for a few people.  Mary was one of them.  How did she feel laying her babe in a smelly animal trough, knowing he was the Son of God--her own Savior?

Did she feel guilty?  Inadequate?  Panicked?  Unprepared?

Was she like so many other mothers in the world who hurt to their core when their child suffers?  Did she have any inkling of the depth of suffering he would endure in his lifetime?

My littlest one is fighting a virus right now.  Fever.  Diarrhea. Vomiting. General yuckyness.  When I hold her little too-warm body in my arms, I ache deep inside.  I want to take it away and I feel so helpless.

But, I am comforted in knowing that she's a healthy little 2 year old with a strong immune system.  In another day or two, she'll be back to her normal, joyful self.

What about moms who have children who are sick and won't get better?  What about the ones in Connecticut who buried their children this week?  What about the mothers here in Haiti (and other places in the world) who wake every day with anxiety because they're not sure if they'll be able to put food in their babies' hungry tummies?

Surely, God had a plan for Jesus' arrival in the humblest of conditions.  His humanness speaks to our souls.  He suffered, as we suffer.  He KNOWS our pain--he's been here.

Praying tonight for all of us moms who are hurting for our children.

Luke 2:16 "The shepherds hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning all that had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed."

My little sheep from this week's school Christmas program.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful blog, Sarah. You are right, once a mom, always a mom. Mothers of 93, 62, 36, or 14 years of age(as Mary is thought to have been)worry about the well-being of their children, hurt when they hurt, and are thankful when they are happy, healthy, safe, and secure.


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