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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

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 Mary, 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.

(You can watch it for yourself here.)

I think the little sheep-girl knew something we often forget after Christmas:  we can’t keep Jesus in the manger.  He had a mission that took him to isolated Egypt back to small-town Nazareth to a lonely dessert, through hated Samaria, into dangerous Jerusalem, to heart-wrenching Gethsemane, up a hill to a life-draining cross and back home to Heaven.  The manger was the first of many inconvenient or hostile encounters until Jesus went back to Heaven.

We have similar journeys to take that might involve our own versions of isolation, rejection, excruciating choice or pain.  We need to remember Jesus’ journey when we encounter inconvenient or lonely times. He is our brother who understands these temporary intersections because he experienced them, too.   He left the manger to help us find our way in them and through them.

Today, after Christmas, we continue our journeys toward God’s eternal goal for us.  May the Christmas that came to our hearts make a difference in the way we face everything ahead of us.  May Jesus of the manger become our Jesus in our deserts as well as our celebrations.  And may the hope, peace, joy, and love He came to bring, color our lives with the same unswerving determination Jesus had as we live our own Christmas to Easter lives.


Maybe I’ll keep an empty manger around to remind me. How about you?

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