Get back to the manger . . !

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IT’S the beginning of December, the Christmas month, and as I think of the birth of Jesus in a lowly manger, where cows and goats and horses were kept, I find on that exact spot in Bethlehem, a cathedral has been built.

Something, some of our leaders love to talk about today, and rightly so, are their humble beginnings, either as a chaiwallah or autorickshaw driver or other commonplace starting stages. This, to tell the world they know what it is to have been born poor and thus understand how difficult life is.

In Christ’s case it was even a bigger contrast: God coming down not to a palace, but a place people would have been loathe to visit. But in that lowly birth springs the very essence of His teaching. In that stable in which a God was born, came the concept of a servant leader, one who had the humility to wash the feet of His followers.

But when a cathedral is built on the spot of lowliness it gives another message, and certainly not what God came down to give. A cathedral speaks of grandeur, of power, and richness and bigness. Maybe today, the beginning of the Christmas month, we need to hear Jesus whispering to you and me, “Get off the steeple!” “Why, it’s nice to be up here God!” “Get back into the manger!”

It’s quite a descent from the top of the lofty cathedral to the manger below. We shake our heads, and in that shake, maybe drop the tall hats we’ve been wearing to impress people all around, “I did not come to awe the people to worship me,” He whispers.

The manger is dark and dingy, but suddenly the cows and sheep look at us and their eyes light up, as they seem to be saying, “He’s there in that dirty manger, what were you doing searching for Him in the steeple?” And from that manger He moved to a carpenter’s shop, and from there watched the very people He had created. He saw their trials and troubles, watched them cry with grief, and also watched their simple joys, things He would not have been able to do from the top of cathedral. Christ, expects us to climb down from the steeples we have heaved ourselves onto, and get back to manger, where He was born.

As December begins, let us become manger people, not cathedral nobility. Shed our righteousness and double standards, and feel for those who hover around the stable; the poor, the disabled, the grief stricken, the outcasts, and the weary. Get down from the cathedral! Then wash the feet of all those hovering around the manger..!