Day 8: No Crib for a Bed

Did you know that the first two verses to Away in a Manger were written anonymously? Some have accredited them to Martin Luther, but we can’t be sure.

Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky
Look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

This was one of my favorite Christmas carols when I was a child. The delightful lullaby still soothes my soul in unexpected ways…and differently each year, I might add.

Over the last five years, I’ve learned that the key to keeping joy in Christmas is keeping it low-key, not high-strung; slow, not fast. All to often, in our holiday rush to get Christmas right, we spend too much, eat more than our stomachs can hold and drink more than we should. Before we know it, stress sets in, we’re loosening our belts another notch or two and scrambling to find enough cash to cover the bills come January. Perhaps that’s why we need New Year’s Resolutions (more to come on that later).

The heart of Christmas is simplicity. The heart of Christmas is a manger. This is something we need to remember as December 25 gets closer.

Think of the first Christmas. There was no room for Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. The hotels (in that day) were booked solid, no
one had room to spare. There was no crib for a bed. The cattle were lowing, which is an alternate term for mooing and making a racket as they are known to do (I know this first hand!). No wonder the baby awakes. I wonder how many mothers can imagine giving birth in a barn. Or even using a cattle manger (or trough) for a crib.
As I mentioned before, no one knows who wrote the first two verses of this song. Perhaps it was written by a stressed out parent with several children under the age of three in an effort to lull them to sleep (lullaby style).
And even though the lyric states, no crying He makes, I’m sure that Jesus, being fully human and fully God, wailed and cried with the best of them. Mary and Joseph probably suffered sleep deprivation, but loved Jesus none-the-less.
Even though I’m not yet a parent, my own have often reminded me that having a baby is worth the sacrifice. Babies are worth the investment. Have you ever noticed how small children tend to steal our hearts? No wonder God came in the form of a child. He stole our hearts from the beginning.
The last verse remains a prayer in my own life:
Be near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven
To live with Thee there
A miracle happens when that little Baby Boy cracks through the hardest of hearts and warms the new believer to the core of their soul. My prayer for you today is that God will continue to fit us for heaven, to live with Thee there.

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