Our Christmas services are over now. I enjoyed seeing so many people at the Mabel Tainter Theatre. If you weren't there I shared my reflections on the manger. The following is a brief summary (I'll be posting the full message later this week).
God revealed three aspects of his character when he had Jesus born in a stable and placed in a manger.
First, God is approachable. There's nothing more approachable than a baby. Place a baby in a room and everyone gathers around. There's something about a baby's vulnerability that draws you to it.
But just coming as a child didn't make Jesus approachable. He had to also be accessible. Jesus could have been born in a palace with guards. To be fully approachable Jesus was born in a stable. Stable hands don't check I.D.'s screening people at the door. And that's why Jesus was born there. Everyone is welcome. God is approachable.
Second, God is condescending. That's a negative term when applied to a human but it's a compliment to God. God is willing to humble himself and come down to our level. Jesus emptied himself of his divine nature to meet us where we are at. He didn't hold any special privileges in coming. He didn't require a clean hospital or guards at the door. And that tells me that if God is willing to come into a dirty stable he's willing to come into my dirty life. It doesn't matter who I am or what I've done. He'll lower him self to whereever I'm at to relate to me personally.
Third, God is subtle. Jesus didn't come with a parade or fireworks or a trumpet fanfare. It was the opposite. It was almost a secret. God seems to take pleasure in revealing himself only to true seekers. He won't shake us until we believe. He can only be seen by those looking for him. I'm sure it was tempting for the shepherds to leave the stable. It didn't LOOK like God was there. But something inside of them told them to stay. God, indeed, was there.
We too need to have that same kind of discernment to see God where others don't.