I’m sure you’ve seen it —whether on Christmas cards or the annual Christmas play.
There’s Mary, the tender young girl, perhaps with the pillow stuffed under a lavender dress made of the finest linen sheets. Then there’s Joseph, a young man struggling, pulling an all too stubborn donkey. Joseph’s pleas for a place to stay are met with the too blunt edict: there’s no room in the inn.
But at last, a manger.
A manger with an all too perfect trough, with all too perfect clean straw, and a cherubic baby, fresh from birth, and perhaps a piped in cry. As awkward, shy shepherds gather around a beaming Mary and Joseph, they are soon joined by 3 wise men, ornately dressed. They bring gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And at the precise moment, the starlight breaks through as the choir sings “Away in a Manger.”
While there’s the divine in the Christmas story, I think we all too often forget it’s the story of a family. From Abraham onward, we see God’s promise that in Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed. That blessing would ultimately come in the form of a Redeemer, one who would save His people from their brokenness.
From Abraham onward, we see the struggle of this family—infertility, sibling rivalry, fighting with in-laws, slavery, freedom, and the struggle to gain the promise land. There are battles and wars. There are judges and failure after failure, met with the rise of the kings, with once again the promise of the Ultimate King. There are prophets who point to the coming Savior, and then there’s 400 years of silence.
Fittingly, as the New Testament opens, it begins with a genealogy, the story of a family, a multigenerational family that will bless the earth.
That’s part of the story of Christmas. A story of family that changes the world. In Part II of Not Just a Manger, we’ll look at family in the Kingdom.
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Published December 5, 2022