The Manger Never Stops Being Amazing

baby

----

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” –Luke 2:6-7

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. –Luke 2:15-19

----

I have written at other times on this blog about the circumstances surrounding the birth of my firstborn. God let my husband and I know He was with us in the midst of the frightening circumstances. I felt God's love more tangibly than any other point in my life.

That memory is always particularly poignant when my son's birthday comes around. But the story is no less powerful at any other time of the year. When we share it with others, they share our joy and hope in a God who cares for us.

Christmas Day was almost a week ago already. Time keeps relentlessly trudging forward. Some of us had holidays we will never forget, some had days they wish they could. The month of December, as all months, was likely a mix of joy and sorrow, stress and peace, despair and hope, busyness and calm. Some expectations were exceeded; some were never even got out the front door of our hearts.

As the month of December flew by, I had let go of many of my hopes, this series being a daily occurrence among them. We had more commitments than I realized, and it was so difficult to keep up. I wish there had been more peace, more quiet, and more space for contemplation.

I feel like I missed out on the way I wanted Advent to be.

But, the thing is, Advent reflections don’t have to fit inside the window of December 1-25. We never have to put end caps on our wonderment about the incarnation. The picture of God coming to earth in the form of a baby never stops demonstrating His love.

----

Emmanuel, thank You for coming so many years ago and thank You for being here with us now. You are always loving, always filled with grace, and always beyond our expectations. Help us keep our sense of wonderment about who You are and how You came to us. Fill us with Your love, and let it overflow to this world You came to save. Amen.

-----

Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) – Chris Tomlin

“Emmanuel, Emmanuel God incarnate, here to dwell Emmanuel, Emmanuel Praise His name Emmanuel”


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.

 


Thank you for joining me for my Advent series! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season! Please join me in 2014 as I pick back up with my Psalms Journey series, as well as reflections on the everyday life of faith.

Wonder: Christmas isn't Over

How do you feel when Christmas is over? Some are thrilled that they survived awkward and tense family gatherings, while others are grieved by the impending timeline of leaving their loved ones once again. Some are relieved that the stress of preparation of cooking and shopping and decorating has ended in success, while others are disappointed about all the ways their expectations did not materialize in reality.

Whether excited or disappointed, we now have this feeling that the season is done.

But what, then, do we do with the biblical Christmas stories? Do we wait another year before we revisit them?

The beauty of the Advent and Christmas season is that we push ourselves once a year to reflect on the coming of our Savior. The downside is that we do this only once a year. We shove these stories that explode with wonder into the small box of a few weeks, and expect to squeeze all the reflection out of them during that time. 

Can I encourage all of us to keep exploring them? To continue to see the way these stories of waiting and wonder and worship speak to our lives? Can we acknowledge that our souls ache for our Messiah in February just as much as they do in December?

I'd love to end this wonder series with a recap of where we have been this month. Perhaps you can bookmark this post and come back to it in March, when you feel those feelings of longing, and desire those feelings of wonder, but aren't sure where to go with them.

Thank you to everyone who has read and participated in this Advent series. It has impacted me in so many ways to not only reflect on these stories myself, but read the perspective of others that I was lucky enough to host on this site.

Here is a recap. If you missed some of the posts, perhaps you would like to go back and take a look?

Now, I would love to hear from you. Which of these posts impacted you post during this season? Is there another Advent post from another site that touched your heart?

Let's not let Advent end in December. Our longing for a Savior continues all year long.

Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.

Wonder: He is Here!

I had many grandiose ideas about what the Christmas Day post should be in this Advent series.  

But nothing felt quite right.

 

What can I say about this story of Jesus coming to earth beyond what has already been said?

 

Yesterday I celebrated Christmas Eve by posting prophecies of the Messiah’s coming. Today I would like to celebrate Christmas by posting stories of the Messiah's arrival.

 

The words of the biblical Christmas stories may be familiar, but would you take the time to read them, and really take them into your heart and soul today?

 

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:26-38

 

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. – Matt 1:18-25

 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 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.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they 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 what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – Luke 2:1-20

 

Our Messiah is born. May today be a time of worship and joy as we celebrate the birth of Immanuel, Jesus, our Savior.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

Wonder: Rediscover the Christmas Story is an Advent series designed to help us pause and reflect on how amazing the stories of Jesus’ birth really are. To break through the cluttered busyness of the season and touch our hearts with the awe of what God has done. Let’s make this a season of wonder and worship, marveling together at our great God.