5 Days Until Christmas!
Song: “The First Noel,” by Bryan Duncan
Christmas Album: “Stars of Christmas,” by Various Artists
Christmas DVD: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966, animated)
Netflix Movie: “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
Amazon Prime Movie: “A Christmas Snow”
Feeln Movie: “Fallen Angel”
• “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” 5:35 p.m, FreeForm
• “Deck the Halls,” 6 p.m., AMC
• “My Christmas Love,” 6 p.m., Hallmark
• “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” 6:40 p.m., FreeForm
• Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis vs. Western Kentucky, 7 p.m., ESPN
• “The Toy Story That Time Forgot,” 8 p.m., ABC
• “Michael Bublé Sings and Swings,” 8 p.m., NBC
• “Terry Crews Saves Christmas,” 8 p.m., CW
• “Four Christmases,” 8 p.m., AMC
• “Christmas Cookies,” 8 p.m., Hallmark
• “Shrek the Halls,” 8:30 p.m., ABC
• “The Santa Clause,” 8:50 p.m., FreeForm
• “The Year: 2016,” 9 p.m., ABC
• “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come,” 9 p.m., NBC
• “Greatest Holiday Commercial Countdown,” 9 p.m., CW
• “Merry Matrimony,” 10 p.m., Hallmark
Recipe: Christmas Ham
Quick Thought for Christmas
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Every year, one of the most beloved images of Christmas is the manger scene. Tender shepherds admiring from afar. Wise men kneeling to present their gifts. Watchful Joseph keeping an eye on his family. Adoring Mary loving and caring for her new child. And sweet baby Jesus, lying in a manger of fresh hay, while peaceful animals lie nearby.
It’s really quite serene and wonderful. And completely inaccurate.
The truth is that this scene isn’t nearly as romantic as we’ve made it out to be. Yes, I have a manger scene, too, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without it. But we really should be mindful of the way things really were that first Christmas.
Remember that Bethlehem was a destination for probably thousands of people coming to register for the Roman census. Except that Bethlehem isn’t all that large. It’s no wonder there were no rooms at any of the inns, because there likely weren’t even very many inns. Enterprising innkeepers were probably charging for steps on their staircases. And one such innkeeper remembered he had a stable out back where the Joseph family could stay.
Also remember that a record number of people would have brought with them a record number of animals, a large number of whom would have been lodged in that same stable. And animals are known for two prime functions: eating, and going to the bathroom, but not in a bathroom. This stable would have been overrun by animal waste, which is almost certainly why they chose a manger for baby Jesus’ first bed – it might have been the only clean spot in the place.
So instead of a warm room in a house or a hotel, with a comfortable bed cozy blankets, Jesus got to sleep his first night in a crowded, smelly, waste-ridden stable, surrounded by noisy animals, while sleeping on itchy, scratchy hay. At least they had some extra clothes to wrap him in and keep him warm.
Tonight, as you sleep comfortably in your bed, wrapped in your warm covers, remember what our Lord and Savior had to endure on His first night in the world. He left a throne room of glory to come to the lowest place in the world, simply because He loved you and me, and He wanted to make a way to save us and set us free from sin. And the next time you look at a manger scene, recall the way it really would have been, and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the Lord gave up for each of us.
Reflection copyright © 2016 by Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.