A Place at the Manger
What can I give Him, poor as I am?–
If I were a Shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man I would do my part,–
Yet, what can I give Him, —
Give my heart.
(From Christina Rossetti’s In the Bleak Midwinter)
A friend recently posted a picture of her cat sunning himself, sitting on a table where she’d arranged her family’s crèche. The caption read–Huge alien cat visits manger scene.
And it reminded me of a time, a couple years ago–when our then 8-year old daughter, her prancey puppy, and a tattered stuffed bear visited the manger too.
“Can we stop?” she’d asked as we passed the little church near our home.
It was cold out, and we wanted to say no, but she was persistent.
“Please,” she’d bellowed from the backseat.
Pulling in to White Oak Baptist’s parking lot, she cheered, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Then to her puppy Prancer, “We’re gonna visit Jesus.”
After all, her heart was grateful, and she wanted to share her gratitude with Him.
Never cold, she left her coat in the car and walked the several yards to the simple stable that had been erected Thanksgiving weekend.
Each time we’d driven by, she’d asked to stop, so on this particular evening, her heart was at its full elation. Her excited puppy leading her on her leash, they disappeared into the darkness before we could exit the vehicle.
Walking up behind her a few moments later, we approached quietly–not wanting to distract her from her conversation with the Christ Child.
Kneeling beside the manger, she was correcting Prancer, “Be quiet. Don’t lick the Baby. He may not like doggie slobber.”
She’d jumped out of the car with her teddy bear–a favorite toy, to be certain. We could see that she’d laid him down near the Baby’s head. “See Him?” she asked.
From our perspective, peering through pine boughs, we watched as the trio–blundering, slobbery, and disheveled though they were–sat silent, looking at a Baby in a bed of plastic straw.
It was a most holy moment–one we’d almost missed if, in our hurried state, we’d said no to stopping. Said no to her bidding. Said no to her heart’s earnest cries.
Our daughter desired to sit in the quiet space of the stable–among the hay and plastic figures–to introduce Jesus to those two things which were, to her, so special. But more important, she wanted them to meet Him, the Holy Child.
Her tender heart poured out, much like fragrant nard, she left changed.
And so did we.
There’s a place at the manger for each of us–where one kneels, bends low, and worships.
Among the dust and dung–the clutter of our lives–one discovers the sacred in the simple. Heaven in the hay. Salvation in the straw.
Take your best gift–the gift of your presence, the gift of your time–and place it there at Jesus’ throne. The King of kings came on a cold and lonely night, was born in the midst of chaos just outside that Bethlehem barn.
The first to come–those lowly shepherds–were told by angels of the Christ Child’s birth, heralded by the Heavenly host.
And they knelt–bent low–to seek His face.
We, too, are called, “Come! Come and worship the newborn King!”
Poor as we are, weak and weary though we may be–Come! There’s a place at the manger for us all. We will never leave the same.
Dear Jesus, thank You for coming! Receive now the gifts we bring–humble though they may be. May You alone be praised, and may each of us leave changed. Oh, how we love You with all our hearts, precious Savior of the world.
Away In A Manger
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky look down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus–I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there.