Away in a Manger

I don’t have much time to write this morning, but I wanted to share a special moment with you, Dear Ones.

The Tucking In is a special time at our house. Especially during holidays, and on the weekends, because we let the guys sleep together during those times (They giggle too much to do so on a school night). I love that they love to sleep together. They are getting older, and times of togetherness will be fewer and fewer in the coming years. I shared a bedroom with my sister in my early years and I have such sweet memories of nighttime talks in the dark. Something happens to our inhibitions when the lights go down. Our other senses are awakened…including our sense of mystery and wonder.

I always wiggle in under the covers with my boys before we pray. It’s so delicious to smell their freshly washed hair, and feel the warmth of their skin! I try to talk to them about their day, or plans for the coming days. Last night we talked about how we would spend our holiday time. Oh, I just want to hold on to these moments and carry them with me in a box with a big red bow into my twilight years. The thought that one day my mind will be too feeble to remember how they smelled, or how their young voices sounded in the dark breaks my heart!

Anyway, I guess I was feeling very sentimental last night, because I got a little carried away in our prayer. One of the gifts that my mother gave me was a strong prayer life. She encouraged us to pray regularly when we were children, and she provided a good example. But the personal nature of my prayer life has grown as my relationship with the Lord grows. It is one of my strongest desires that my boys experience the presence of God deeply through their prayers. Sometimes I see the fruit of this desire. Last night was one of those nights.

I was thanking the Lord for sending His Son to earth to us. I exclaimed at His brilliance, at how He did it in such a way that mankind would never expect. A manger, Lord! I exclaimed. Who would have thought? And I went on to say how we are too small, too human, to understand His Plans, His reasons for such a humble birth, but that we trust in Him, and we know that His plans always are better than our own.

When we were finished praying, Jeffrey wanted to tell me why he thought God sent Jesus to be born in a manger. He said, “I think it was because God wanted Him to have such lovely surroundings.” Spoken like a child who has seen too many neat and tidy nativity scenes. I didn’t want to ruin his lovely image with descriptions of the smells the animals probably made, or the discomfort of sleeping straw, that probably bugs and rodents sharing that straw with Mary and Joseph, or descriptions of how bloody giving birth can be and how difficult it must have been to clean up afterwards. No, his sweetness was so touching that I would like him to keep this thought for a while. And who knows, perhaps God did make the surroundings lovely that night. He can do anything, right?

So, I simply said, “Do you know why I think He did it that way?” (Meantime, Teddy is saying, “I don’t think so, Jeffrey). We went on to talk about the mysteries of God. How He often does things in the way we would least expect it. How He loves to surprise and astound us. We talked about humility, and how Jesus washed the feet of His disciples right before His death, commanding them to serve one another. We talked about how Jesus taught that true greatness came through humility and servitude, and that perhaps, being born in a manger was one way God wanted to powerfully illustrate this truth.

I felt Jesus right there in the room with us as we talked. He snuggled in under the covers and wrapped His arms around us all. Ah, Beloved, I still feel Him with me as I share this with you.

This conversation opened the door for other deep questions the boys have had on their hearts. (Teddy wanted to know about the poster downstairs in our church that says something about thousands of teens being turned out of their homes because they are gay. But that’s another blog.)

I treasure these times, Dear Ones. It’s all part of the AVENTure of Advent.

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