The Manger Never Stops Being Amazing

baby

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“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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Leaving Room for the Sweet

sweets

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How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

-Psalm 119:103

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The season of gorging on fudge and wolfing down toffee squares has begun. Cookie trays are being delivered to homes and offices everywhere, testing our willpower and tempting us with their sugars.

This is my first Christmas season eating gluten free, causing me to feel both thankful for the extra reason to not indulge and bitter for the barrier that keeps me from my favorite goodies.

I am a dessert person. I intentionally leave room to have sweet treats at the end of my meals. And if I don’t, I am bummed out by my lack of forethought.

That brings me to question that is a bit cheesy and predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less important: do I feel the same level of remorse when I don’t leave room for God’s Word?

I gorge myself on input: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, podcasts, books, television, movies, and Spotifiy shout at me all day long. I fill myself with their content, and then when it comes time for eating up the sweetness of God’s Word, I am full. It feels more like I am choking it down than savoring its flavor.

Especially at this time of year.

The Christmas story of Luke 2, in and of itself, without the exposition of podcasts or the ponderings of blogs (like this one) or the interpretations of songs should be sweet to our taste. I, for one, need to do a better job of leaving room for it.

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God, the author of book of life, help us leave room for the sweetness of Your Word. May we savor the love story of a God come to earth to rescue His people. Help us hear it with fresh ears and see it with fresh eyes. Recapture our wonder. Be the source of our joy. Amen.

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Instead of a song today, let's enjoy this classic scene from Charlie Brown's Christmas that reminds us of the sweetness of this Story, in and of itself.


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.

Listening like a Leaf

  I cannot expect to feel the wind if I never get outside.

 

So why do I expect I can hear the Spirit if I never give myself space to listen?

 

We fill our days with so many things. Good things. Important things. We read. We watch. We play. We build. We cook. We talk.

 

How often do we bring ourselves into silent spaces?

 

I get frustrated because I want to feel God’s presence and hear His voice more tangibly in my life. But I wonder how much of that is on me.

 

When I give Him only a moment, how can I expect more than a whisper?

 

Listening to the Holy Spirit means being shaken like a leaf in the wind.

shaken by the Spirit

To let that happen, I need to go where the Spirit is. To find where it is silent so I can hear Him. To find where He is moving so I can feel Him.

 

I seek entertainment more than I seek meaning. I seek satisfaction more than I seek calling.

 

Holy Spirit, I want to go where you are. I want to make space for you to come where I am.  I want to listen and I want to move. I want my life to be about more than the next little thing.

 

I want it to be about what matters: You and how You are transforming the world.

 

The wind is blowing. I want to feel. I want to listen. I want to be moved.

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: LISTEN. (Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that's still okay according to the rules...)

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