The Manger

  • Dec. 22, 2016
  • #9039

Jesus was laid in a manger to show us that God wants to display His glory in unconventional places, and in ordinary people.

The Manger

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a Christmas memory. You know, my family used to raise horses back in Maryland and from the time I was a little girl, I knew what a manger was. The word "manger" was a common word around the barn. It was part of everyday language when we were throwing hay to the horses. We'd haul a bale of hay in front of a stall, break it up, and heave it into the manger. Nothing special about that – the mangers in the stalls of our barn were made of slatted boards and nailed to crossbeams.

The whole triangular arrangement was nailed on the side of the stall. These mangers weren’t pretty, they were functional. They were full of splinters. We never thought much about the mangers in our stable stalls, they were just there to serve an ordinary purpose: holding hay. And at Christmastime, I always thought it was curious to read about the manger in the stable at Bethlehem. I'll never forget when one Christmas suddenly, that very ordinary wooden trough took on new meaning.

I was heaving a big chunk of hay up into the wooden trough, and when the hay dust settled, I paused and for the first time I really looked at that manger. This old bunch of boards nailed together is what everyone was talking about – the manger. It tells us the kind of place for which God is looking to display His glory. It is not necessarily a place that is beautiful or appealing. It’s not exceptional or extraordinary. No, God will set up housekeeping; God will birth His Son in the lives of ordinary and, yes, even unappealing people. The manger teaches us that God is only looking for a heart that will receive Him, a place that will hold Him.

It also reminds us that God is not looking for perfection. He's just looking for availability. And we can be available. There is room in your heart's stable you just simply have to find it, prepare it and make it available. The manger shows us that from the very first moments of Christ’s life on earth, Jesus chose to identify with uncomfortable things, unconventional places and ordinary people. No one can ever accuse the Lord of not leaving His ivory palace to identify with our pain. The pain wasn't only reserved for the cross or even the dry, dusty travels on the road to Jerusalem. No, His life of discomfort began in the cradle. It began in the manger.

Lo, in a manger
Dear little stranger,
Jesus the wonderful savior was born,
There was none to receive Him
None to believe Him
None but the angels were watching that morn.
Dear little stranger,
Born in a manger
Maker and monarch and Savior of all
I will love you forever
Grieve you? No never
You did for me make your bed in a stall
Dear little stranger
Slept in a manger
No downy pillow under his head
But with the poor, he slumbered secure
The dear little Babe in his bed.
The dear little Babe in his bed.

From all of us at Joni and Friends “Merry Christmas!"

Music: "Dear Little Stranger" by Charles H. Gabriel, Public Domain

© Joni and Friends

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