December 16, 2021

Away in A Manger

By Glenn

The Gospel of Luke starts with the most recognizable image of Christmas: a babe, wrapped in bands of cloth, lying in a manger. The manger scene certainly is touching, but it is also powerful.  It tells us everything we need to know about Christianity.

The Christ child is weak and vulnerable.   His mother gave birth in a manager because no one made room for her.  She was just one of many common women and her pregnancy didn’t afford her any respect. If she had been from an aristocratic or merchant family, she could have afforded a bed and midwife.

Instead, she gave birth alone with her husband at her side.  How frightening must this have been? The song Silent Night makes it sound so peaceful and calm.  Having witness the birth of my two sons, I know it was not.

No one had noticed until an angel appeared to shepherds tending their flock.  The angel terrified them.  The angel, however, preached the very heart of the Gospels: “Do not be afraid; for see ”I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah.””

This child was no ordinary messiah.  Unlike King David or Cyrus the Great, the babe was not a warrior.  Jesus did not come to wage war, but to show the way of peace.

Saint Francis of Assisi understood this message.  He recreated the manger scene in thirteenth century Italy and popularized its use in churches and homes.  Francis wanted the world to see God in the least among us.

St. Francis crafted a prayer that reflected his understanding of the Gospel. 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me bring love.

Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.

Where there is discord, let me bring union.

Where there is error, let me bring truth.

Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.

Where there is despair, let me bring hope.

Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.

Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

O Master, let me not seek as much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that one receives, it is in self-forgetting that one finds, it is in pardoning that one is pardoned, it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

Peace, Love, Forgiveness, Hope, Light, Joy.  These are the words of Christmas.  If you what the world to know that you are a Christian, then pray that you become an instrument of Peace.

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