“…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.” Luke 2:7
Every time I hear the word ‘manger’ mentioned a lump slides into my throat as I think about the smallest of the children standing in front of the Church singing ‘Away in a manger’ softly while watching their teacher for instructions and nervously looking into the crowd to catch a glimpse of their parents. Tears welled in my eyes when my daughters sang this song. Mangers in the Christmas programs were generally made of a few boards, sometimes they were cardboard but no matter what their composition their main purpose was to be the bed for the Christ child. One definition for the word ‘manger’ is “a trough or box of carved stone or wood construction to hold food for animals. A Christian symbol associated with nativity scenes where Mary, forced by necessity to stay in a stable instead of an inn, placed the baby Jesus in a manger.” The Haitian goats in the attached photo are eating from a metal manger that you and I would probably call a wash basin. Whatever type of manger Christ was placed in as a child was a very humble place for the Son of God to be kept. As we take measure of our lives, of our have’s and have not’s; let us never forget how our Savior came into this world and why He came into this world and how He left this world. I close today with the word to the song ‘Away in a Manger’.
The first publication of this song was in 1885 in a Lutheran Sunday school book by James R. Murray. The fact that the song was included in the book and was subtitled "Luther's Cradle Hymn (Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones)" created the misconception that the lyrics were actually written by Martin Luther himself. However, no proof that Martin Luther had any hand in the creation of "Away in a Manger" exists to this present day.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the bright 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 side until 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 take us to heaven to live with thee there.”
Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.
May God be with you…Jay