Spiritually Speaking – December 2018

“It Began in a Manger”

There were no velvet garments. Instead of a golden scepter, the king held a crudely whittled olive-wood rattle. The curious sounds: cows munching, hooves crunching, a mother humming, a babe nursing.

The Arrival: Did anyone mention the couple’s arrival, or wonder about the condition of the girl. They were too busy! The morning chores had to be done!

God entered the world as a baby. If someone were to chance upon the sheep stable, what a peculiar scene they would behold: The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard and the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling, and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor. A more lowly place of birth could not exist.

The weary father can’t remember the last time he sat down. Now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out, and the mystery of the event still puzzles him. What’s important is that the baby is fine and Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use…Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”

At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is—and what He is doing—is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off Him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is He! She remembers the angel’s words: “His kingdom will never end.” Divinity entered the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager, and in the presence of a carpenter. Meanwhile, the merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God out into the world.

Just a Moment: It all happened in one moment. As moments go, it appeared no different than any other. But in reality, that particular moment was like no other. During that time, God became a man. The Omnipotent, in one instant, became pierceable. He who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl. God had come near. While the creatures of earth walked
unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.

Let God be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in, can he pull us out. Listen to him.

“Love your neighbor” was spoken by a man whose neighbors tried to kill him.
“I am with you always” are the words of a God who, in one instant, did the impossible to make it all possible for you and me. It all happened in a moment.

In one moment, a most remarkable moment, the Word became flesh.
The world will see another instantaneous transformation. God made it possible for man to see God. The first moment of transformation went unnoticed by the world. But you can bet your sweet September that the second one won’t! The next time you use the phrase “just a moment”, remember that’s all the time it will take to change this world.

Mary’s Prayer: Enjoy the silence of the crib.
Savor the sweet safety of my arms, for a day is soon coming when I cannot protect you.
Rest well, tiny hands.
For—though you belong to a king, you will touch no satin, own no gold.
You will grasp no pen, guide no brush.
Your tiny hands are reserved for works more precious: to touch a leper’s open wound;
to wipe a widow’s weary tear; to claw the ground of Gethsemane.

Lie still, tiny mouth from which eternity will speak.
Tiny feet cupped in the palm of my hand, rest; for many difficult steps lie ahead for you.
Lie still, tiny mouth—mouth from which eternity will speak.
Tiny tongue that will soon summon the dead.
Do you taste the dust of the trails you will travel?
Do you feel the cold seawater upon which you will walk?
Do you wrench at the invasion of the nail you will bear?
And little heart…how many times will we break you?

You’ll be crushed under the weight of your own sorrow.
And you’ll be pierced by the spear of our rejection.
Yet, in that piercing…that final rush of blood and water, you will find rest.
Your hands will be freed; your eyes will see justice; your lips will smile;
and your feet will carry you home.
And there you’ll rest again in the embrace of your Father.

Christmas Night: The midnight hour has chimed, and I should be asleep; but I’m awake. I’m kept awake by one stunning thought. For a few precious hours, He is beheld…Christ the Lord! Those who pass the year without seeing Him…suddenly see Him. People who have used his name in vain…pause to use it in praise. Eyes, now free of the blinders of self, marvel at His majesty. All of a sudden He’s everywhere.

Soon the magic will begin to fade; but, for the moment, the magic is still in the air. I want to savor the spirit just a bit more.

I want to pray that those who beheld Him today will look for Him next August. I can’t help but linger on one fanciful thought: If He can do so much with such timid prayers lamely offered in December, how much more could He do if we thought of him every day?

by Max Lucado