Done with the manger, so what now?

posted in: Andy Blogs | 0


Took this photo above yesterday – the manger is empty (courtesy of Archeon). Christmas time has come and gone again. Did the truth of Christ coming to earth as a gift strike us in a fresh way at all?

The manger became empty. Firstly he started to grow up. By the time the Magi came to visit, Jesus was living in a house with his parents. Did they keep the manger as a souvenir? I guess not! Yet even if they did, they would have not taken it with them when they fled to Egypt, so as to avoid Herod’s intention to kill the boy! They became refugees – the manger was definitely well and truly history!

Even at an early age, Christ knew what it was to experience loss, disruption and a total change of circumstances. God became man and He understands directly the human journey, including when everything is thrown up in the air.

In Psalm 46, we read of not fearing, even though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea! This reads like the stuff of a Hollywood disaster movie – tumult, destruction, everything we know being decimated. The Psalm goes onto use words like roaring, foaming, quaking, surging… not exactly words of peace and rest!

Does life ever seem like that? That the landscape completely changes? It may be due to a physical move. But it may be due to for example health, relationship or employment matters. Or perhaps political changes or things we see in the news cause life to seem like the earth has given way?

The Psalm begins with these words,

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Do we believe that?

Though as an aside, is God someone we only call on when we are in trouble? It is far better to get to know more about who He is in all seasons of life. Otherwise perhaps we are using Him like a “get out of trouble” app: “please God, fix this… God sort this…”

Not that it is wrong to bring our requests to Him – plenty of verses in the Bible encourage us to do so. Yet it is in the context of a call to be His children, to relationship with the Lord. It is not some kind of transactional deal like “God if I sort of follow You, stop there being difficult stuff!”

When stuff happens that shakes us, that can cause us to fear, where do we turn? What are we persuaded by?

Note I write ‘when’ not ‘if’…

That is not to be all doom and gloom as we look ahead. But there is a lot of fluffy talk at the start of any new year  – things like “this is going to be our greatest year yet”! May be it will be though perhaps it depends on how ‘great’ is best defined?

Later in the Psalm we read,

Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

So I ask again,

When stuff happens that shakes us, that can cause us to fear, where do we turn? What are we persuaded by?

What lies ahead in 2017? Neither you or I know either for our personal lives or in the wider world. Yet I do not think this means we have to fear nor be full of anxiety nor be moving forward with some sense of foreboding. The emphasis of the Psalm is to look to the Lord at all times and have confidence in Him, whatever our circumstances:

The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

The manger was empty but God remained faithful. He led them as a family to Egypt and He led them back again.

The manger is still empty but Christ is alive and calls us to follow Him through the coming months. He remains faithful and a fortress.

Where is our trust?

That’s a big question to finish on but I hope it is one that positively stirs us.