Getting in touch with the power that drives the Universe...
Did you ever lose or misplace one of your prized creche objects? You know, that little manger scene we Christians put on display in our homes during the Christmas season? Currently, I'm looking for the Baby Jesus part of our carved African creche set. Imagine. Losing Him! One could get by with one less shepherd or perhaps even a wise man, but Baby Jesus? It got me to thinking about the whole manger thing. Really it's the most essential part of the creche. Without it, what have you got? For me, a major part of Christmas is the manger scene.
As part of my regular Bible devotions I was reading Exodus 37 last year which details the furnishings of the Holy Tabernacle, the original tent dwelling of the Most High Yaweh, God of the Isrealites. I was fascinated with the excruciating effort put into the construction of the Table of the Bread of the Presence. It was made out of fine acacia wood and overlaid with a foil of pure gold. It had gold rings attached to its sides so that it could be carried by poles. No one would dare touch this table. You see, the unleavened bread laid upon this table was placed there in deference to the Holy One; for His consumption only. Touching it would most certainly defile God and result in death.
Contrast that with the Manger where Baby Jesus lay. Made out of common rough wood (or possibly stone) it had to be of crude construction. Possibly cracked and full of slivers, there must have been animal saliva (or possibly worse!) on it. Anyone could touch it, but who would want to? Moving it would be an unpleasant task and to associate this piece of junk with God Himself would be an insult! Yet the Bread of Life entered the world of Mankind through this humble and dirty stable piece. Anyone could touch him, and possibly Mary and Joseph allowed dirty shepherds or royal Magi to hold and cuddle the Baby.
The contrast couldn't be more stark! Man's attempt to fulfill God's "physical" needs by placing bread on a sacred, refined table. God seeking to meet Mankind's spiritual needs by placing His pure Son on a filthy, makeshift piece of junk.
For me, the Christmas story begins, at least, in Exodus. Maybe the Manger is our way of escaping slavery. Thanks God for your Incredible Gift!