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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Well Worn Manger

"You will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."
Luke 2:12

I remember exactly why I bought them. They were NOT in the budget, but I wanted a Nativity that the "little people" could touch.

Touch they did. They imagined and played as if they were there.

I have memories of one or another toddling up to me with the Baby Jesus announcing, "Baby Gee!" Those camels and donkeys made the trip to Bethlehem more than once.

It's only when you look closely, that you see the GAPING hole in the Wise Man's head (a hole that would require surgery of enormous proportions). The camels and donkeys have lost ears in their time with us, the angel's star hangs on by a thread, and the crib that holds the baby Jesus.... well, it stands only on one leg, having to be sandwiched between Mary and Joseph.

I often find Baby Jesus lying upside down when I pass by, one run past the table or too much jumping from the floor above and he is shaken to the point of a faceplant that I have to "fix" the Savior several times a week...
There is something about baby Jesus laying there face down that just doesn't seem right.

At first glance they "look" just fine.

It's only upon further observation that you notice the flaws.
It reminds me of most of the people I know, including myself.
We are flawed, broken and worn, trying our best to pull it together for the outside world.

I walked by that set the other day and paused to notice how worn-out and broken those pieces looked. I thought silently that they are likely more "realistic" to how the REAL Mary, Joseph, shepherds, Magi and animals really felt out there. Not unlike how I often feel; broken, exhausted and as if someone has taken a piece of me and the world seems to say "no room here today."

Worn out, and yet at the same time, all of those present that night must have had an overwhelming peace, knowing that for a brief moment, they were experiencing something on Earth that was Divine.

Mom called last year and told me that she was trading in her manger set that looks JUST LIKE THIS ONE, with one exception, hers had not had little hands play with it, break it,
imagine with it. Hers has sat neatly,
and lovely under the tree and it remains in perfect condition.

"Do you want it?"

"YES, I would LOVE to have the set that isn't broken!"

Then I thought about it.
It was as if a voice spoke just loud enough for me to stop,
"But isn't that how you come to the manger?"

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 (New Living Translation)

I'd love to tell you that I'd get all dolled up for a visit to a stable. The fact of the matter is I come to the manger looking very much like that Nativity of mine. As much as I love the Master's rendition of that night in Bethlehem, I doubt that any of them looked as perfectly as they are depicted in the fine artist's mind. They were filthy, exhausted, fragile and broken themselves. That is how they arrived at the stable that night.

We come to the manger as our authentic selves.

Unbroken? Perfect? Without Flaws? That is who we are.

He doesn't want us to clean up and welcome Him in, rather He wants us to open that door and allow Him to see, gaping holes and all.

It's in the broken Nativity that I see the humanity of it all, the humanity of our authentic selves. We come seeking hope and peace. We come BECAUSE we are broken and in need of a Savior. He came so that we could approach that manger with the same peace that those there that night in Bethlehem felt, the peace that transcends all understanding. The peace found only in Him.

It is exactly how I come to the manger. Less than perfect, exhausted with a few rough edges that are still in need of smoothing out, and even embarassingly gaping holes at times. It became so clear to me that this is exactly WHY I need this manger.
It's me, it's us....

Get rid of the broken, imperfect, worn Nativity? NEVER.

It's the reminder I need.

That is who He was born for. The ones with the gaping holes, rough edges and flaws. He lie in a manger so that the lonely and exhausted could approach with hope.
The message is there, always has been I suppose, for anyone who cares to look closely enough.

Linger at the manger this year, look closely, bend low and allow your brokenness to show, after all He came into the world for you and me.

May the peace of the season be yours in renewed hope that only a baby in a manger can bring to a very broken world.







Join Lori daily at her personal blogspot, where she can be found finding Jesus in the daily details of her life.






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11 Comments:

Blogger Denise said...

You are a dear blessing.

December 20, 2008 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Dukes Lee said...

Beautiful, Lori.

We're all just a bunch of broken people who are only made whole in the hands of the Potter.

December 20, 2008 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Catrina Bradley said...

What a perfect analogy! I'm so glad I read this this morning. It was just what I needed to jump-start me: flaws, broken edges, gaping holes, and all.

December 20, 2008 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Love it. I resonate with this on many levels. Thank you for sharing.

Blessings,
Sandy Cooper
www.godspeakstoday.blogspot.com

December 20, 2008 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Betsy Markman said...

This was very meaningful to me. When we were kids, my siblings and I each got new plastic nativity pieces that we could play with. My mom's goal was that each of us would have a complete scene by the time we left home. We did play with them a lot, and they got scratched up over the years. But it's wonderful now that my own children play with those same pieces. We look at them through different eyes. I see the chipped paint and see my chipped self. My kids don't have that perspective yet, but I hope the pieces last long enough that they'll begin to understand the legacy they hold.

December 20, 2008 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

What a beautiful devotional to reflect upon. Thank you for sharing.

December 20, 2008 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

"That is who He was born for. The ones with the gaping holes, rough edges and flaws. He lie in a manger so that the lonely and exhausted could approach with hope."

Thank goodness for this. What a comfort!

December 20, 2008 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

This was great Lori!

I love the fact your children were able to really play with that nativity.

Yes, I can identify with those figurines too.

Blessings my sweet friend♥

December 20, 2008 at 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Michelle L said...

Just what I needed to hear today. Thank you! I guess I need to take the nativity set of my life down and play with it a little bit more, even if it gets chipped along the way... what a liberating thought!

December 21, 2008 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Angie said...

I KNEW even before I finished reading---you were the writer. I didn't see your name until I finished...but the heart in the words matched mine.

Broken is how I came to the manger. Healed is how I left. I love this dear treasured story. I love you as well.

December 21, 2008 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Mary Moss said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for making this great analogy:-)

December 21, 2008 at 8:04 PM  

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