December 17, 2016
by Maria Fontaine
It’s Christmas Eve. I have some time to relax in quiet solitude, and I’ve decided to spend it in front of our small manger scene. I have lit some candles and there’s one very small lamp that is casting some light on the figures. Instrumental Christmas music is playing in the background.
I’m so happy Jesus gave me the idea to celebrate Him in this way. It’s a special privilege to take this time to praise Him for His inexplicable, incomprehensible, boundless love and sacrifice for us, and what it has led to in our lives and the lives of others. It’s also an opportunity to pray for God’s people all over the world—some celebrating in prison cells, some in their homes, and some in churches, large and small. Many celebrate in poverty and hunger, with not much to share with each other, but because they have Jesus in their hearts and faith in God, this time is very, very special to them.
The poor can relate to how He was born under very poor circumstances. They see a God who understands them, a God who, even though He is the king of the universe, came in human flesh to their weary, pain-filled world because He loves and cares. The rich aren’t left out either; they can relate as well. They see how, like the wise men, they can give gifts to Jesus. They are welcomed by the Christ Child also, God opening His arms to all who will come.
I move the figurines of Joseph and Mary and the baby in the manger out of the stable and put them where I can see Jesus better, surrounded by the shepherds and the wise men and the cows and the sheep.
In an attempt to make the scene more “real” for me, I adjust the lighting so there are areas of light fringed with darkness and shadow here and there. I try to imagine how it would have been with only a dim oil lamp burning for light and perhaps a small fire burning for warmth. The faces of some figures would be illuminated or seen only now and then in the flickering light, while others would be nearly hidden in the shadow-filled background.
Since manger scenes around the world are so different, and we don’t really know exactly how it looked, I think I can make my own configuration. The Lord whispered to me, “Yes, you can put Me wherever you want, and if you want to put Me in the center of things, I love that. That’s where I am in your heart, in the center.”
I think Jesus is very happy when we make time to reflect on Him. When we intentionally make a time to dwell on what He gave up and what He did for us, the awe and the wonder of it can sink deep into our hearts and stir us to praise God for the many ways that He has made us His, made us new, made us alive.
Realizing that I’m joining our Christian brethren in celebrating something that some are risking their lives to commemorate, I’m moved by their faith, their conviction, their love for Jesus that compels them to risk everything to show Him and others their thankfulness for His gift to them. I feel so honored to be a part of our huge worldwide family of faith. Together with them, as we wait in adoration and in prayer, we are being filled with His love, light, joy, and peace.
The wise men and shepherds experienced the presence of God on earth in the person of Jesus. They were filled with the passion and fire to go and spread the news abroad to others, and we can feel His Spirit compelling us to do the same as it renews, rejuvenates, and revives us.
Everyone involved in that first Christmas was brought to our Lord’s side through supernatural signs, orchestrated from heaven. Even though the wise men were not there at the same time as the shepherds, including them in the manger scene creates the archetypical picture, summarizing the events surrounding His birth. It’s a beautiful symbolism of everyone, rich and poor, paying homage to the King of the universe.
Each chose to follow the heavenly guidance presented to them, including Mary and Joseph. For each one, it was a journey of faith. We today still have to believe by faith in the Word that has been given to us. We have to follow and obey, and to talk about our Savior with joy and confidence so that others can have a chance to make their own journey of faith to His side in spirit.
This baby in a manger in Bethlehem was a child destined to become the sacrificial Lamb of God, “without blemish and without spot,” to take away the sins of the world. He would become known as the “upholder and maintainer and guide, the heir of all things, the creator of the universe; the brightness and radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being.”
Paul in Colossians would call Him “the firstborn of every creature.” He would be revealed as the God of the whole earth, God manifested in the flesh; Jehovah, mighty in battle; the Almighty which is and which was and which is to come; the beginning and the end.
Seen by most as nothing more than Mary’s “firstborn son,” this babe was God incarnate, the same yesterday, today, and forever. From before the foundations of the earth, He was the Anointed. He came to earth as the Bread of Life that had come down from heaven, the true Light which was to lighten every man. He would be a strength to the poor, a help to the needy and distressed, and a refuge from the storm. He would be the only “sure foundation” and the “chief cornerstone,” our mediator and intercessor. This tiny baby who was the most precious gift God could ever give us had humbled Himself and would yet humble Himself through death on the cross.
In the midst of so much turmoil, He came to bring peace. In the midst of so much pain, He came to bring healing. In the midst of so much despair, He came to bring hope. He is our beloved and our friend, our Savior and our example, our teacher and our deliverer, our refuge and our God.1
- The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”2
- And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.3
- And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll, and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God, from every tribe and language and people and nation.”4
- Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.5
- In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.6
- He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.7
- Your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.8
- And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.9
- Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle!10
- John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.11
- “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”12
- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.13
- Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.14
- With the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.15
- I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.16
- The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.17
- For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.18
- Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation.”19
- Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.20
- For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.21
- Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.22
- Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!23
- And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.24
- May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!25
- For you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings.26
- For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.27
- “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”28
- He said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge.”29
God bless you all! Peter and I wish you a very happy Christmas!
1 All verses are ESV translation unless otherwise marked.
2 John 1:29.
3 Revelation 5:6.
4 Revelation 5:9.
5 1 Peter 1:18–20.
6 Hebrews 1:2–3.
7 Colossians 1:15–17.
8 Isaiah 54:5.
9 John 1:14.
10 Psalm 24:8.
11 Revelation 1:4–5.
12 Revelation 1:8.
13 Hebrews 13:8.
14 John 17:24.
151 Peter 1:19–20.
16 John 6:51.
17 John 1:9.
18 Isaiah 25:4.
19 Isaiah 28:16.
20 Ephesians 2:20.
21 1 Timothy 2:5.
22 Hebrews 7:25.
23 2 Corinthians 9:15.
24 Philippians 2:8.
25 Psalm 29:11.
26 Malachi 4:2.
27 Psalm 71:5.
28 Lamentations 3:24.
29 2 Samuel 22:2–3.