Luke 2:4-7 tells us, "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."
Away in a Manger
It may be called a manger, the nativity scene, or a crèche. During the Middle Ages, people set up living crèches in Italian villages. Whatever name you use, you probably have one.
The word Nativity has to do with birth, but this was not just any birth, but a birth that changed the world then and now. The manger used by Jesus was most likely a food trough in a cave, as that is where they kept their animals. (Sometimes animals were kept in a cave during this time, other times, a lower level of a house, like a lean-to.)
Traditionally, most people have one under the tree. I have several, close to 20 actually, yet rarely put there under the tree because I like branches to the floor. Mine are set up around the house. The more delicate ones are put up in a safe place but others are on tables to be enjoyed.
Our children were familiar with the nativity story and enjoyed “acting it out” using the mangers kept out for them. Each had particular ways of arranging the manger, according to individual interpretation.
When she was about five, Elizabeth declared, “Who put all these animals in here? I moved them outside where they belong. You can’t have dirty animals with Baby Jesus!”
Andrew moved all the animals to one side and added Matchbox cars to the manger like a garage. It was possible to identify which child had touched it last by the position of the pieces! Occasionally, Fisher-Price animals managed to join “the regulars” as well.
I do not remember which son did it, but one day I noticed that Baby Jesus was missing! I asked about it and he took Jesus out of a pocket. Apparently, Baby Jesus had wanted to see the large Nativity scene at church so he showed him.
Why did I allow the kids to play with the Nativity scene? I wanted it to be real to them. After all, it IS a real story. Young children love the story of the baby in the manger. Reenacting the story gave them joy.
A prayer for today
Dear Lord, I want to keep the story of the Nativity real in my heart, just as a child. Help me keep the love and wonder alive. Remind me to show MY life to Jesus and include Him. Amen.
devotional called, "As We Wait"
a book that looks at the symbols
and customs of the Advent season,
written for the entire family.