The Baby in the Manger
Maybe you haven’t noticed.
Catholics typically use crucifixes. The term “crucifix” is of Latin origins and essentially means ‘fixed to a cross’. So most Catholic crosses contain some representation of Christ affixed to the cross.
Protestants on the other hand, typically employ naked crosses. That is, crosses without a body. “Christ,” many are eager to declare, “is risen! He is neither in the grave nor still fastened to a Roman cross!”
The funny thing is that Protestants have no problem putting a baby in the manger of their nativities. In fact, you’d probably be surprised at the level of anxiety caused by annual “kidnappings” of “baby Jesus” (do a Google News search of “baby Jesus stolen”).
…because a manger-bound god is easier to control… easier to fit into our holiday… our schedule… our lives…
The manger-god asks only that we provide a manger, bow like shepherds, light some candles to remember the star and sing “Glory to God” to remember the angels.
Baby Jesus is safe! No… He’s contained! No worries. No stress! He’s just a baby! Nobody fears a baby. We fuss. We don’t fear. And in spite of the example of the Magi we don’t worship babies either.
It’s hard to worship a God who is lying in a manger with a poopy diaper!
We prefer the Christ-baby! So, each year we pause to celebrate our tiny, manger-bound God – wrapped in swaddling clothes. Then we congratulate ourselves for “keeping Christ in Christmas”
I often hear people talk about “getting”, or worse, “letting” God “out of the box”.
If that’s you, you need to get over yourself. Fact is, you are too small to put Him in a box! You haven’t the strength to put Him in a box! And you certainly don’t have the capacity to see Him fully! The best you can do is ask Him to blow whatever confines and restrictions you currently view Him through.
Now that would be an awesome Christmas present!
(parts of this blog come from a sermon preached by Rev. P. N. Woodburn during Advent 2013)