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. 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, over to heart-wrenching Gethsemane, up a hill to a life-draining cross and back home to Heaven. The manger was just the first of many inconvenient or hostile encounters until Jesus went back home 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 them. 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 on this day after Christmas, may we continue our journeys toward God’s eternal goal for us. May the way we cleared for Christmas to come to our hearts and homes 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 as we live our own Christmas to Easter lives. May we follow Jesus all the way to his Home where we will experience a celebration that out-Christmases anything we have ever planned or known.
Maybe I'll keep an empty manger around to remind me!