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Journey to the Manger: Advent, December 15, 2013

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Advent means coming or arrival. The celebration of Advent by Christians is the anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child as well as his anticipated return as Christ the King.

Come here daily in December for your Journey to the Manger. Readings here will look at the symbols of advent and provide suggested readings and meditations.

On Day 15 think about the manger. Because Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem, which was already crowded because of the census, they found shelter only in a stable, and there instead of a crib, Jesus was placed in a manger usually reserved for feeding the animals. A humble earthly beginning for a king.

This was foretold in the Old Testament.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
~ Isaiah 7:14

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

~ Luke 2:1-16

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

~ J.C. File, 1885 (some sources point to Martin Luther based on the title of "Luther's Cradle Hymn"). Verse three by John T. McFarland

Suggestion: Make the symbol of the manger for your advent tree or arrange your family nativity scene as a reminder of his humble birth.

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