By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
Eagle Rock Lutheran Church, Los Angeles, Ca
December 25, 2013
Let me ask the mothers in this congregation. When you were pregnant, did you prepare for the coming of your babies? Like buying clothes, saving more money for hospitalization, etc.?
Modern parents nowadays prepare clothes, materials and money before the birth of their children.
Nowadays we have “baby showers” even though the baby is not yet born. It is enough for them to know the sexuality of the fetus so that they could include in their baby shower invitation that they are expecting a boy or a girl.
I remember my wife Merla when she was pregnant with my two kids: Pao, 22, and Sha, 16. She was very careful in carrying them. Since she did not like them to get virus or any kind of sickness while they were inside her belly. She was not drinking soda, she had proper diet and sleep. We even save more money for the hospitalization and milk. I admired her mothering for our kids.
Now, concerning our passage. You might wonder why Maria and Joseph did not prepare for a good motel for the coming of their son? I believe they were ready but as the preceding passage says:
Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world (would mean all the areas under Roman rule) should be enrolled/registered (for the purpose of taxation).
This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
And all went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;
to enroll himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child.
And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered (Luke 2:1-6).
So because of the influx of people to Nazareth due to registration, a lot of motels were occupied. Besides probably they did not expect that Jesus would be coming so soon! Since both of them were virgins or did not yet experience to have babies. Or perhaps they did not know that God had different script for the Nativity drama. Anyways they got a stable (house for the sheep), and Joseph became the midwife of Mary and Jesus was born!
Indeed, Jesus was born inside the stable, and he had no place to lay down. So Joseph asked the sheep to lend him their manger (plate of the sheep). And he laid down Jesus in the manger.
LESSONS FROM THE MANGER
God let it happened that Jesus was born in a manger. So I prefer to reflect on the manger.
(1) The manger symbolizes the humility of Jesus, the Messiah. God may give a good place to stay for the family but He let it happened to teach us humility. Humility is giving up ourselves. Giving up our ego, for the sake of highest good. We can do humility now if we surrender ourselves to Jesus. When we surrender ourselves to our savior, he will change us, he will make us humble.
(2) It symbolizes contentment of Jesus’ family. In the situation of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, that’s the situation of survival. The situation of come what may. The situation of surrendering to the power of God. Have you experience like that? We have our own goals, we struggle, we pursue, we try everything, but to no avail, then it come to the point of surrender and we say God I did everything but I can’t. Let your will be done.
(3) It’s not important what you are now, but the important thing is your future. Jesus was born in a manger but he did not stay in the manger. He struggled, he pursued his missions and he was victorious in His missions on earth to save us from all our sins.
Right now we are experiencing some challenges in life. Especially here in America. Some of us do experience to have no money at times, no food, no shelter, no jobs, no friends, but God is wonderful. He leads us to “green pasture” as the Psalmist sings.
Let me tell you a true story.
A few years ago, Courtney’s car broke down. He managed to get it to a repair shop, where the mechanic told him that it would cost $308 to fix.
He was just a poor college student, and had only a few dollars to his name. He called his mom, crying, and told her what was happening.
As she was going through financial difficulties herself, he was not expecting she would be able to help him.
But that very morning at work, as it turns out, she had been given a completely unexpected bonus. It was the first time ever, after 30 years of employment at the same place, she had been given a monetary bonus.
The amount was exactly $300! Courtney said, “I know this was the Lord working a miracle in my life!”
Indeed, God helps us in mysterious ways, unexpected ways, or unbelievable ways. Let’s recall Psalm 23. David confessed the following:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Do you believe that?