Scriptures to be read before the sermon on Sunday, December 15, 2019:

Monday:  Jeremiah 31:1-9

Tuesday:  Luke 19:1-10

Wednesday:  Luke 15:1-10

Thursday:  Philippians 2:1-11

Friday:  Colossians 1:15-20

Saturday:  Luke 2:1-20


A Manger

          British missionary Geoffrey Bull was seized by the Communists following their takeover of China in 1949.  He was cold, exhausted and hungry as his captors drove him day and night across the frozen landscape of Tibet.  His future looked bleak, so much so that he despaired of life. 

          Late one afternoon, he staggered into a small village where he was placed in an upstairs room.  After a meager meal, he was ordered to go downstairs and care for the horses.  It was extremely cold and very dark.  His boots squished in the manure as he walked toward the horses.  The smells were  nauseating.  He expected to be kicked at any moment as he attempted to complete his task.

          Weary and so very, very cold, Geoffrey began to feel sorry for himself.  But as he continued to grope around in the darkness, suddenly something flashed into his mind as he asked himself, “What day is it?”  He thought for a moment.  In traveling, the days had become muddled in his mind.  But, then it came to him.  It was Christmas Eve. 

          He stood suddenly still in that Oriental manger.  To think that our Savior was born in a place just like this, he mused!  Jesus came down not from an upstairs room but all the way down from heaven where he gave up the beauty and bliss of glory to be born in a wretched stable just like the one where his servant, the missionary Geoffrey Bull, stood.  Then, it occurred to the missionary that Jesus did all that and more for him.

         He returned to his upstairs room still a prisoner in an earthly sense, but with a much greater appreciation of what Jesus done – set him free in an eternal sense.  He then bowed his head in thankfulness and worshipped.

          Considering how the cross and the crib (manger) are often romanticized today, it will be very important this Advent season that we not overlook the full extent of what Jesus did so that we might be set free as well.  May his Advent (first coming) inspire our thanksgiving and worship as we look forward to His coming – both into our hearts this Christmas and eternally on that great and glorious day when He returns.