This morning we were treated to the kids’ choir singing the familiar songs of Christmas. Charming, sweet, innocent, a bit mischievous, they won our hearts (as they always do) by being who they are—kids. As with every kids’ production, nothing went exactly as planned, and there were unexpected surprises. (And there’s always that one kid who is apparently performing in another show of his own making…)
And that is what makes the production even more charming. We see in our kids a little of us. We see in them the seeds of becoming something like us. There is a bit of grandstanding, perhaps, and a little of the desire to please another, but there is a whole lot of trying to do the best you can in a difficult environment. We love them all the more because they are so wonderfully earnest and truthful.
I think of this in context to the way God moves in the life of his people here on earth, by using unexpected people and surprising, disruptive events. But he started it that way by being born in an unexpected location with anonymous parents and no family celebration. No mother was around to help Mary give birth. Joseph was there, anxious perhaps, but the only attendants he had were the animals stabled there at the inn. Of course there was love, and of course she treated him with the love every mother has for her child, but his place of rest was a feeding trough, comforted by hay and random bits of barley. Later would come the witnesses—the shepherds who while tending their sheep were waylaid by overly excited angels looking to tell someone what had happened. Much later would come wise men from the east. And much, much later would come the elders of his village to voice their surprise at the growing boy’s wisdom, then friends and crowds and attention by leaders—and loneliness and abandonment by his loved ones while he was upon that rock of Calvary. And then resurrection and life and glorious heaven. It’s all there, from beginning to the middle. Manger to Messiah to Mansion
God surprised us on Christmas morning because he arrived in such an unexceptional manner. Born of a young, overlooked girl with a man to marry her, but no comfort of family. Shepherds not the sophisticated leaders. Animals jostling in the dark rather than worshippers with candles. Like a hundred or a thousand others that night, a baby born and laid down with what was handy for comfort.
And that baby in the manger would one day return to his mansion—and bring so many more with him.
Now believers in Christ have exceptional gifts from God, starting with that greatest gift of unblocked access to him. Because Christ was born, we know God has come down to us to speak to us. Because Christ died, we know God has wiped the account books clean of our debts. Because Christ has risen again, we know we have eternal life with God throughout the ages and beyond the end of the age. We are promised a mansion with God one day by the same Jesus who came to earth to lie in a manger. We have these great gifts because our great Savior came down for us men and women, and our salvation.
It is good to remember the mansions, and it is good to remember the manger where it all started.