Right here beside the manger
There is something about the manger that stills my heart, that steals my breath and then reminds me to breathe. It happens every Christmas. And it surprises me every time. A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid right in the hay. A mother's gentle hand on a newborn's furrowed brow. The tension of the night giving way to the relief of having survived it. The moments of sudden calm when Mary must have stared with wonder into the eyes of her Child.
She looked upon the face of her son and beheld the very face of God. She whispered into the ear of the tiniest Prince of Peace. She counted the fingers of the hands that had placed the stars. She kissed the forehead of the King of kings. She soothed the spirit of the Living God, rocked Him, fed Him, let Him sleep nuzzled there against her chest.
I forget it all the time.
And then December slows me down, points me back toward the manger. Points me back toward a God who wrapped Himself in human flesh and entrusted Himself to the arms of a young woman who was willing to entrust herself to Him.
And I remember. And I am tendered once again to a God who draws near.
Long before I knew anything about the Man on the cross, I fell in love with the Baby in the manger. Jesus. And when He needs to slow me down and draw me back, that Man of the cross leads me to the stable. He kneels with me there beside the manger. He whispers of a child's faith, invites me back to a simple trust. The Man of the cross reminds me of the miracle of the manger.
That this tiny Infant is Christ the Lord.
That a great big God came to be God with us. Emmanuel.
I want to kneel beside the manger this season. To trace the shape of the Baby's nose. To sit quiet and watch His eyes flutter as He sleeps. To be still and slip my finger into His tiny fist. I want to kneel beside the manger and worship the newborn King. To hear the hoards of angels singing. To press my ear to the chest of the Infant and hear the very heart of God.
To let the jagged reality of both His frailty and His power overwhelm me.
I want to kneel here this Christmas and remember that God came near. That He still comes near.
May we take a moment to catch our breaths this season and let the stillness have its way. May we let the manger remind us that the Child laid upon that hay really is the Hope of this wildly wayward world. May we find rest. May we find peace. May we find our place beside this manger. May this tiny Child remind us of our place in the presence of a great big God.
May the Man of the cross lead us to wonder at the miracle of the manger.