The Empty Manger



We will be better prepared for the Christmas season if we have the discipline to wait until it arrives. – Daniel Ethan Harris (works with the Spiritual Formation Center of First United Methodist Church in Midland, Texas)

Key Bible Verse: Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3)

Dig Deeper: Isaiah 40:1-11

A number of years ago, the church I attend set up a very nice nativity set in the front of our sanctuary during the four weeks leading up to Christmas, when we observe Advent. The wise men, shepherds, livestock, angels, Joseph, and Mary had all taken their places for the festivities, but we were missing one notable character: there was no baby Jesus. The hay-laden manger had an indentation where the infant figurine was supposed to be, but his absence was glaring.

For four consecutive Sundays I walked past that nativity set and looked at the empty feeding trough where I expected to find the Christ-figurine. Then finally late on Christmas Eve our family went with so many others to celebrate his birth, and there he was – right in the miniature manger where I had looked for him during the previous month. Christmas had come.

An unexpected result of the Jesus-figurine’s four-week absence from his place in the nativity was that I paid a significantly higher amount of attention to him and his place in that scene than I would have if he’d been there all along.

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