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Monday, November 30, 2015

God and Manure

St. Luke recorded Jesus’ birth this way: 

[2:1] “Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth . . . And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up . . . . to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there . . . she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Two thousand years ago few people in Bethlehem recognized the significance of the stable where Joseph and Mary snuggled their newborn son. It's not hard to understand why others missed its significance. It wasn't the kind of place you'd expect to find anyone of importance.

The stable was not like the pretty pictures printed on Christmas cards. The grueling journey to Bethlehem left Joseph and Mary tired and hungry. They only wanted a place to bathe and a warm bed to sleep. Instead, they arrived in a city of strangers. Joseph searched in vain for a comfortable place for his wife to lie down. The best they could do was to settle themselves for the night in a darkened corner of a stable, to the smell of manure and rotting straw.

On this second day of Advent, I try to imagine myself in that stable where Almighty God took the form of a helpless Child. It is there, in that place for cattle and sheep and donkeys, among mice and rats, God stepped into humanity. It was there, in a smelly, dirty stable that a cataclysmic transformation took place in the relationship between us and the Almighty.

Few in that little town of Bethlehem knew humanity's temporal and eternal destiny revolved around that manger – and Calvary's cross looming in its shadow.

But you and I know it. 

On this, the second day of Advent, God gives us yet another opportunity to thank Him who loves us so much that He gave us His most perfect gift, so those who would believe in Him would have everlasting life.

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