Away With The Manger

Tis the season to be jolly…. Fa la la la la, la la la la.

OR IS IT?

“Tis the season for perennial battles between true believers and atheists, between mass marketers and the devout souls who worry about blatant commercialization of the holiday season.”

This, more accurately, is how yet another article from a typical newsroom in America begins.

Will the battles ever stop?!?

Controversies and culture wars predictably light up the month of December. Everyone has his own view on how anything deemed ‘religious’ should be handled when in the public eye.  You have your own view and I do, too.

Today, rather than urging you to write a letter to the editor of your local paper to voice your opinion (who reads the newspaper anyway, right?) or suggesting that you picket the stores that won’t let their employees wish you a “merry Christmas” this year, I simply wanted to share a bit from a novella I recently read titled *Away With The Manger – a spiritually correct Christmas story. 

The following selections are taken from the ending chapter of this fictional story. Uproar ensues in a community when the town council bans a manger scene on the front lawn of City Hall unless other “Winter Holiday” symbols (Santa, reindeer, etc) are included in the display as well. See whether you find a little nugget to hold on to this season as well!

                “You can have the best intentions, you can have truth and God on your side, and still be wrong.

                “Listen to me. We were so caught up with our constitutional rights and our legal protections under the law and our convictions about freedom of religion that we forgot about the most important thing Christmas came to bring. A relationship.

                “We were so high and mighty about the manger. We fought a culture war to keep God in the center of Christmas, and we let him get out of the center of our own lives.

                “Let me say this to you. We can win legal battles all the way to the Supreme Court, but if we lose a soul, everything we’ve done will have been in vain.

                “Friends… how many of us in here are for prayer in the schools? How many of you want the Ten Commandments back on the walls of our classrooms?… Now let me ask you another question. How many of those who just said they were for prayer in the school – how many of you prayed with your children last night before they went to bed? How many of you prayed with them at the breakfast table before they went off to school last week, or prayed with them at the dinner table, more than to thank the Almighty for the food and bless it to the nourishment of our bodies?… How many of you right now can give me more than five of the Ten Commandments? … It’s easy to hold a poster or wear a T-shirt, but it’s harder to really live what you believe.

                “The whole thing comes down to this: if we believe that the God of the universe invaded time and space for us, how far will we go to communicate his message to others? How much love will we show to people who are against us?

                “The message of Christmas is this, friends. The same little baby who felt the straw in the manger felt the nails on the cross. The same baby those smelly old shepherds came to see was the very Lamb of God who came to take away our sins. And if we can sit here being forgiven by the holy God of the universe, and turn around and spit venom at the people who don’t know him, then God help us. We’ve missed it, friends. We’ve missed the whole reason for Christmas.”

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Don’t miss it this year. Don’t get so wrapped up in a cultural battle that you miss living out the reason for the season to those we meet on the street, work with, and live with.

God is LOVE.manger

He is FOR us.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Soon the bells will start

And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing

Right within your heart, right within your heart.”

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…

singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Col.3:16

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“It’s easy to hold a poster or wear a T-shirt, but it’s harder to really live what you believe.

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* Away With The Manger – a spiritually correct Christmas story by Chris Fabry (published by InterVarsity Press, 1996)

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