Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Manger - Peace on Earth

Our shopping is done. Decorations are up. Wal-Mart is insane! I'm blessed to have a wife that finished our Christmas shopping well before the mad rush. She also had a great idea this year for our decorations: we have a life-sized manger as the center piece of our decorations. It holds the place of prominence in our family room. She and I had talked about positive ways to reinforce for our kids the real message of Christmas, and this was the central piece. We felt it imperative to help our children really grasp Christmas. Our daughter, Cayla, just turned 4, and Jeremiah is 5. They are bombarded with commercials this time of year telling them that there are a lot of things out there that they should want for Christmas. So, if they don't get the right message at home, they won't get the right message at all. Oh, sure, they may hear people talk about giving, or peace on earth and good will towards men. They usually ask about the Salvation Army ringers outside the shops. But Christmas is more than just peace between men, and hearts focused on each other. Christmas is about God making peace between Himself and humanity, and the showing of His good will towards us. That is the greatest of the Christmas messages. And the manger offers us a great opportunity to help them understand that.
We're doing several things this season to help our kids understand that Christmas is about God, and His intervention into humanity's timeline. Today we delivered presents to children whose parents are in prison. I decked out in my biker leathers, and rode with about 30 other bikers and Santa as we went around Lubbock delivering presents to boys and girls. Jeremiah and Cayla were able to actually hand out some of the presents and tell other boys and girls, "Merry Christmas." I was proud to see them wanting to give out the presents. And, at every home, Santa told the story of the candy cane, and talked about Christ's provision for man kind on the cross.
Earlier this week, we went door-to-door to invite our neighborhood to come to a party at our house on Monday. As we did that, Jeremiah and I met Mrs. Greer, a widow that lives three houses down from us. She lost her husband of 50+ years back in May, and this is her first Christmas alone. Jeremiah and I decided to adopt Mrs. Greer into the Bishop family.
Each night this week, we will discuss different people who were there at Jesus' birth, using our miniature manger scene, allowing the kids to tell us what they know about the characters.
And, there's the life-sized manger. It's made of rough wood, using thick rope to hold it together. It's filled with raffia (real hay would kill my allergy-ridden family!). Baby Jesus rests peacefully in the manger, along with a cross that reminds us that He came to die. Under the manger, presents wrapped in gold seem to be offered to the baby. However, on closer examination of the presents, each is labeled with something that Jesus brought to us on that first Christmas. Eternal life, forgiveness, grace, mercy, joy, peace, and love are just a few of the gifts of the God-child. And, this year, as the Bishop family unwraps their gifts from under the tree on Christmas Eve, we will also unwrap the presents of the manger, focusing on the gifts we've received from Christ and talking about their significance to us. Let me encourage you to make the baby of the manger the center of your Christmas. No matter what age you are, it serves as a great reminder to everyone that Peace on earth and good will were realized through the Christ child.
How about you? What did Christ bring you through His birth, death, and resurrection?

No comments: