As we once again approach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, I invite you in the midst of office parties and family get-togethers, to come once again to the manger of our Lord. At the manger (and also at the cross), we are confronted both by our need for God and also by the joy of knowing that God’s love and grace have been extended to us in the gift of a Son. The poet and preacher, James Harnish, puts it this way:
I’ve begun to think that in one sense, the manger is a very small place.
There isn’t room in there for all the baggage we carry around with us.
There’s no room at the manger for our pious pride and self-righteousness.
There’s no room in the manger for our human power and prestige.
There’s no room at the manger for the baggage of past failure and unforgiven sin.
There’s no room at the manger for our prejudice, bigotry and jingoistic national pride.
There’s no room for bitterness and greed.
There is no room at the manger for anything other than the absolute reality of who and what we really are: very human, very real, very fragile, very vulnerable human beings who desperately need the gift of love and grace which God so powerfully desires to give.
Two thousand years ago, angels appeared to humble shepherds watching over their flocks by night. Their subsequent visit to the manger changed their lives. Luke tells us that they went home praising God and telling everyone about what they had seen. That invitation still stands for those who are willing to leave their baggage at the door and come to the manger, into the presence of pure love and forgiveness. God invites you, this Christmas, to simply accept the gift that your heart most desires – the perfect love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. May God bless you this Christmas with the joy of new beginnings and with the peace that is truly at the heart of this season of light. Come, leave all of your cares and fears behind, and join me at the manger.
With love and thanksgiving for you all,
Rev. David Turner