The Untamed Beauty of the Manger

Posted: December 19, 2011 in Spiritual Growth
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The Christmas season is ripe with culture. All over the world, people are celebrating in various ways whether they are believers in Christ or not. The mystery that surrounds the Christmas story is so intriguing that countless stories, songs, and traditions have been created in its honor. No other holiday gets such rapt attention all across the world.

I think it’s the idea of a baby coming as a king from a lowly manger born to die and give his life for all… It is brilliant and beautiful. The hopeless state of mankind, the pain of childbirth, the fact that God was willing to undergo the universal pain of mankind, is breathtaking. There is so much that is not said in the Bible story, gaps that are left for our imaginations to take flight.

There is a lot of room for creativity and expression of faith during this season. It is a real opportunity for us to teach ourselves, our children, and the world more about the transformational power of Jesus upon our culture.

Here are some elements that we see reflected in the story:
– Poverty, rejection, danger, and the harshness of the world.
– Faith and the supernatural contrasted by doubt and unanswered questions.
– The picture of innocence and perfection in contrast to its surroundings.
– The humble form (a baby) and humble circumstances (a stable) under which a King was appointed.

It is pure beauty. Beauty is the tension, the contrast, between darkness and light. Beauty is a snapshot of deep and abiding love. God deemed our human race as beautiful and worthy while we deemed ourselves disgusting and worthy of only rejection. It wasn’t a neat and tidy beauty, but a kind of untamable beauty. He wanted to redeem the beauty of the culture, while people like Herod sought to eradicate a culture. It was like God laying a garland of grace upon the world that had even rejected itself. The love we had longed for, but dismissed as unattainable, was made more accessible than we’d ever imagined. He enshrouded this grace in mystery, a mystery that draws, as the wise men were first drawn to that holy light.

The questions we are asking, the pain we are experiencing, the rejection we are feeling, all the struggles we face, are keenly felt in the story of the Christ child. Being human is one thing we all share. Jesus came, willing to drink from the same cup of human suffering, though he drank it down to the dregs. It was not for some sadistic form of religion. It was for the pure joy and promise of restored relationship. It was for the romance of the human race. No thought is quite so humbling and exulting. No other power is so alluring.

Whatever cultural traditions I choose, or stories I tell, or meditations I entertain, I want it to be filled with the realization of the beauty of the story. I want it to be a true, heaven meets earth experience. When I give, I want it to be from a free spirit. When I receive, I want to feel the joy of love.

Please, Lord, don’t let our actions be empty. Infuse meaning into all the details of our lives… Into something as human as a baby being born. Let us, like little children, experience wonder and amazement as though we were experiencing the privilege of humanity for the first time. Let it not be for Christmas alone, but for every day we are appointed to walk the earth. We cannot be fully human until we experience the fullness of our God, Love Incarnate, the divine kiss upon creation.

  1. I’m a long time watcher and I just assumed I’d drop by and say hi for the very first time. I actually like your posts. Many thanks

  2. Angie Carter says:

    This was such a great piece Leigh….inspiring thoughts, terrific flow, beautiful message! I read it on this Christmas morning during our prayer time. What a great way to start this CHRISTmas Day!! Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for this gift.

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