The other day I was walking through a twilight Rexburg reflecting on the night of Christ's birth. I thought about how before there was Mary, and before there was Joseph, and before there were shepards listening to Angels singing, and even before the animals residing within it: there was a stable.
Whoever constructed that stable, built it with the intention of housing animals, feed, and supplies.If only he knew he was constructing a sancuary for a King. I think about the carpenter that fabricated the manger, imagine if he had known that Christ would one day rest therein.
Have you ever been around farm animals? They smell. There are flies. There is filth. I think about Mary as she entered the stable and took inventory of what was in front of her.
I think many times I glorify the stable as something quaint and lovely, because how could a place that housed our Savior be anything less? Chances are it wasn't initially quaint, or lovely, or charming- but it was likely dirty and musky. There wasn't running water, and I don't imagine the stable was cleaned often. There was likely manure with accompanying flies. The manger was maybe dirty and rough.
I don't know what Mary felt. I do know the feeling as I have entered certain apartments for the first time- they were run down, grimy, perhaps unsafe, and yet they were the only choice we had. I know the feeling of taking a deep breath and trying to count blessings before the disappoint takes over. I also know the feeling of expecting my first baby. I imagine every little detail of how special and wonderful it would be. I remember the responsibility I felt to make that spirit's transition into mortality sacred and peaceful.
I picture Mary felt that same duty, but likely with a much larger burden as the woman responsible for caring for the Savior of the world.
The faith Mary and Joseph must have felt as they prepared that stable for Jesus' birth was nothing short of remarkable. I picture Joseph, the carpenter, sanding down the manger so it was smooth and fresh. I picture Mary laying blankets to make the stable more intimate.
It is interesting that a stable, a stable among hundreds of stables in Bethelehem, became such a special location in the history of the world. It makes me realize how through God, we can make the most mundane and average things, such as a stable, glorious.
I pray that in my sloping floor, cinderblock apartment I can create something beautiful and uplifting. That, just as we associate a stable as a sacred shelter for our King, my children will someday view this old apartment as a sacred time of learning and bonding as a family. I pray they remember our family prayers, our family home evenings, our long talks, our adventures and our love for eachother and the Lord. I hope the life we lead will transform an ordinary apartment into a triumphant and sacred time in their life. I pray that when they think of heaven they think of the feeling they had while we lived in this home. And in every home we share hereafter.
I pray that when people enter our home, they feel something similar to what the shepherds felt that night because as they recognized Christ in the manger, others can recognize the presence of the Savior in our home.
This is the a nativity John and I bought our first Christmas together.
I love it.
Ironic it doesn't even have a stable when that was what I wrote about today. I actually like the accidental symbolism of this display. Christ birth was glourious and magnificent and wonderful because it was the fulfilled promise of a Savior to redeem us. We cherish the baby because the man he chose to become in our behalf.
I like to think that instead of a stable we have the shelter of Christ in our lives to protect us from the wind and elements of a fallen world. We must choose to live in Him.
It's remarkable what God was able to make of am ordinary stable, what will I allow him to make of my life?