Away in a Manger
by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Merry Christmas, everyone! I pray the Christmas spirit has overtaken you by now. I know the City of Marion made this year’s Christmas very special. The event on the Square was terrific. Seeing those horse-drawn carriages hauling children bundled up in blankets was an absolute delight. We were having such a wonderful evening…then suddenly we weren’t.
As with most crises in our lives, it all starts with a phone call. My Dad’s health took a turn for the worse. Suddenly it was no longer carriages and cocoa; it was ambulances and an ER waiting room. We sat there stunned, watching other families in crisis. I realized my sweet Daddy was just one of the millions fighting for their lives at Christmas time. I also realized our prayers were joining in with a symphony of others. Each pleading with the Lord on behalf of someone special to them. At times like these, how do we know God listens or even cares?
When I was in Bethlehem, we visited the Shepherd’s Hill, where the Angels announced the birth of Jesus to some sheepherders. What I didn’t know before that was all the sheep in Bethlehem were destined to be Temple sacrifices, as long as they could be kept flawless. Those shepherds were watching the sacrificial lambs while the true Sacrificial Lamb was being born about two miles away.
The Angels told the shepherds they would find Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. That was supposed to be their sign He was the Messiah. I always wondered why that was a sign. Now I know.
Those lambs, destined for sacrifice, had to be kept so perfect that the last week of their life, they were wrapped tightly in swaddling clothes so they couldn’t harm themselves. Then they were laid in a manger so they could continue to feed until time for their grisly end. So when those shepherds found Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, they knew exactly what that meant. God’s perfect Lamb had come. As the Bible says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
That’s how we know God listens. That’s how we know God cares. That’s the meaning of Christmas. God loves us so much He made a way to always be with us. We are never alone. We are never separated from His love. In fact, it says in Romans that nothing, not even all the powers of hell and death itself, can separate us from the love of God found in Christ Jesus, our perfect Sacrificial Lamb.
If you are one of the many who struggling this Christmas, I want you to know you are not alone. He is listening, and He cares. He loves you so much He gave His only Son, wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger. He gave His best, so you, by believing in Jesus and the sacrifice He paid on your behalf, could know Him and have eternal life. That’s the greatest gift in the universe, and it’s hand-delivered to you with love.