Don't Keep Jesus in the Manger

Bethlehem…Egypt…Nazareth…the desert…Samaria… Jerusalem…Gethsemane…to the cross…into heaven. Luke 2:4; Mat. 2:13, 23, 4:1; John 4:4; Mark 11:11, 14:32; John 19:18; Luke 24:51 I watched one of those adorably funny Facebook videos of a preschool nativity scene where one darling girl dressed as a sheep couldn’t leave baby Jesus in the manger. To the horror of the attentive angel keeping watch, the sheep-girl grabbed Jesus and began rocking him. Then, while cameras snapped their pictures, the angel and the sheep-girl played tug-of-war with poor baby Jesus until the director stepped in. I think the little sheep-girl knew something we often forget at Christmas: we can’t keep Jesus in the manger.

Long Journeys

Magi from the east came . . . to worship him. Matthew 2:1,2 The Magi made the longest trip. They are the ones who receive the award for beginning their journey to see Jesus first. While no one knows exactly where the Magi started from, many connect their origin to Persia because that’s where Nebuchadnezzar asked wise men to interpret his dream. If they came from Persia, they could have traveled close to 800 miles! Add to that the necessity to travel by night to follow the star, and their journey took much longer than our four weeks of Advent! I’ve often thought about these eastern scientist-astrologers who followed a miraculous star only to find what all scientists look for: the origin

Heart Recognition

Though he was in the world . . . the world did not recognize him. John 1:10 The saddest part of the Christmas story is how many didn’t recognize the gift God sent them. Numbed by their own interpretations, shaped by their own culture, calloused by their own wounds; they saw Jesus as an itinerant preacher who was duping the mindless masses. It is just as sad today. Christmas with its trappings and traditions and excesses is a good cover to keep someone from recognizing Jesus. We bear some of that guilt. We have plunged head over Christmas lights into the window dressing without letting God do business in our hearts first. We want Christmas. We really do. But it’s so easy to start at th

Straight Through

Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Isaiah 40:3, NLT “We’re going straight through,” my father announced as he loaded two sleepy girls and too much luggage into a car that would shrink with every mile. That was my dad’s way of starting our vacation. Night would mask our need for the air conditioner we didn’t have. Sleep would keep two girls down for half the trip. Cutting straight paths is what Isaiah tells us to do to get ready for Christmas. We litter our way through with too many diversions. Even good Christmas activities can degenerate into one more thing to do. Shouldn’t everything we connect to Christmas be a pin marker on our heart’s journey to come faithfu