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Spend Some Time Beside Jesus’s Manger This Christmas


            What was your best Christmas?  What did you enjoy most about it?  For most couples, the birth of a child is a happy time during the next Christmas.  My neighbors are having a baby, their first, at the end of January.  This Christmas is a celebration of anticipation.  Next year will be a celebration of presence. 


            Let me suggest a celebration of presence for you.  It will take a lot of imagination on your part.


Imagine that you are standing, invisibly, inside the room where Mary is giving birth to Jesus.  You see and hear her groaning with birth pains as she sits in the birthing stool.  After a minute you hear her final groan followed by scurrying noises of the midwives as the baby emerges.  Squeals of excitement and joy come from them as Jesus begins to cry. 


            The midwives wipe Jesus down and wrap him up.  He stops crying as he is swaddled.  They hand him to Mary who is crying with joy and excitement as she cradles her firstborn child.  She begins to sing to Jesus as the midwives finished cleaning her up.  When they complete their task, one of them leaves the stable area to call Joseph to see his son.  He enters the stable and finds Mary sitting up on some hay holding Jesus.  He asks about her, and she reassures him she is okay.  One of the midwives complements her for doing so well for a first-time pregnancy. 


            Mary holds out Jesus and Joseph is reluctant to take him.   “You will not break him, husband,” she says pushing Jesus into his arms.  Joseph takes and gently holds the baby.  He begins to chuckle.  “Welcome home, little one,” he says, "as much as it is," as he looked around.


            After a few words among themselves, Joseph places Jesus into a manger full of fresh hay.  The baby purses his lips but makes no other sound.  Joseph wipes his eyes and turns to Marry.  She is a little hyper after the birth but beginning to feel the stress of the last few days settle in.  He pats her on the arm and tells her to get some sleep.  He looks once again at Jesus and then gets up and walks out of the stable where relatives and other people congratulate him.


            Now it is time for you to walk over to the manger and look down on Jesus.  Reach down and under the swaddling clothes.  Take his fingers in your hand.  Say a prayer for him and for you.  Talk to him as if he would grow up and guide your future.  Now spend a few minutes saying nothing, just enjoy the moment of holding Jesus’ hand.  Imagine Jesus opening his eyes and looking at you.  Then he closes them and goes to sleep. 

When you are ready, let go and return to this moment.


            If this was meaningful to you, I suggest you write down what you experienced and how you felt so that you can refer to it next year.  But remember, you can enjoy this kind of Christmas any day.

           

Merry Christmas to you.

         Tom Kennedy

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