Reflection: As we read the manger scripture, think about the anticipation that Mary and Joseph must have been feeling. First, they had to embark on their mandatory trek to Bethlehem. Second, they had the pending birth of a very special child. All that anticipation, only for them to have to settle on a less-than-perfect birthing location.
While the manger may have provided an unusual location for such a significant event, it certainly set the stage for a humble beginning. That manger scene, whether anticipated or not, provided a novel and beautiful frame for Jesus’ birthplace. Dare we suggest it was predestined?
While contemplating the concept of anticipation, a distant childhood memory surfaced. I am one of five siblings. We were on a family vacation that included only my parents, my younger sister and me. We were somewhere in New England, most likely Cape Cod which was a favorite spot for my parents.
One of our day trips included a visit to a state park that claimed to be the location of a spring where the pilgrims tasted their first fresh water. We hiked a path to the spring that seemed long at the time for my sister and me. Along the path were frequent signs that announced how far we were from reaching the spring and little bits of information about its history. It felt like there was a sign every few yards, which only heightened our anticipation about seeing this natural wonder.
When we finally reached the spring, my sister and I were very unimpressed to see literally a tiny puddle. My parents even agreed that there was a lot of buildup to a very anticlimactic end.
To this day, we still laugh about it. The story had such an impact on my father that he incorporated it into one of his sermons. While I don’t remember the sermon topic, it no doubt included the concept of anticipation.
As we quickly approach Christmas, may we all wonder on the beautiful simplicity of a quiet manger (and a tiny puddle).”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we approach this holiday season, may we pause to reflect on the wonder of the manger. Help us to be reminded of the true meaning of Christmas.