Dear Church family,
In Luke’s recounting of Jesus’ birth, he talks a lot about Jesus’ bed. Not once, nor twice, but three times in a single chapter Luke describes Jesus in his manger. We know that a manger is some form of a wooden box that would have held straw and other food for a family’s barn animals. So when Luke says that Jesus was born and then put in a manger, we should imagine one form of food being scooped out of the box so that Jesus can be laid there instead. We should imagine that because that is precisely what Luke believes. Jesus is born into this world as our food. He nourishes us. He is the Bread of Life; he is the Vine. He is the one who feeds and sustains us.
Luke follows this image through Jesus’ entire ministry. Remember his amazing miracle of the loaves and the fishes? There was never going to be enough for everyone to get full but, with Jesus, there was plenty to eat. Jesus himself then makes the point crystal clear when he eats with his disciples, passes bread around the table and says, “This is my body broken for you. Eat it and remember me.” Talk about being direct! Finally, at the very end of the gospel, Luke tells of the day in which two disciples are walking on a road that leads to the city of Emmaeus. They cannot believe that Jesus has been killed and that now no one can find his body. They are talking and talking about what has happened but they barely notice a stranger who starts to walk with them. They barely notice him, Luke says, until they all sit down to have lunch and the stranger breaks a loaf of bread in front of them. Then they know him. They know the stranger is Jesus because of the bread.
It seems like maybe it is just a throw away detail, that they laid the baby in a manger. But it is not. It is not, because Jesus was born into this world to feed you, to fill you up with his new life. All other sources of nourishment should be scooped aside because they are nothing compared to the food he is. It is not a throw away detail, also, because Jesus’ entire work in this world can be seen in it: they laid the baby in a manger. His entire work of entering this world to save it by his own body; it’s all there on Christmas night, in a barn, in a box of wood.
I’ve included a picture of this Christmas angel for you today. This angel is one of a series of angels that the painter Bob Holloway designed. She, along with some of her fellow angels, will soon be hanging in the church’s stairwell to the 3rd floor. They are a gift in memory of our own Bob Rogers and have been chosen by his wife Lori Rogers for our congregation. I love this angel because, what I have been describing with words, she shows in her robe. There at the base is Jesus in the manger but, in that moment, we see everything that will come: the baptism, the teachings, the healings and miracles, the road to the cross. All of it is there in this Christmas angel. All of it is there for us at Christmas.
May you lay Jesus in the manger once again and allow him to feed you. It is the best gift you could receive this Christmas and it is the one only he can give.
The peace of Jesus Christ be with you this day, Tasha