Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

Away in a Manger // Advent: An Invitation to Hope

Dec
10

photo: Trinity Kubassek

Advent and the arrival of Hope and Goodness into the world just makes my heart want to sing! So this year, we are taking a closer look at some of my favorite Advent hymns. Each Sunday during Advent 2017, check back to find a new post and a new song, which I hope will fill you with the joy of Christ’s birth. This week, I’m sharing with you my take on “Away in a Manger.” Press play above while you read, sink into hope and rest awhile. This Advent season, let’s remember Who we wait for and sing Him into our world together. As the season unfolds, you can find all the posts here: Advent 2017: An Invitation to Hope.

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I have never personally given birth, but I can’t imagine the fear and completely crazypants emotions that must come with going into labor in a stable. First of all, that is basically outside. Can you imagine? I would have lost my mind, y’all. In a moment when you really want some privacy and comfort, that’s the last place I’d want to be. Jesus’ mom had no inflatable heated birthing pool, essential oils, or customized birth playlist soothing her soul. There was no epidural, and no doctors or nurses or midwives coaching her and ensuring her safety. Heck, this poor, extremely pregnant lady and her husband couldn’t even get a hotel room for the night. They had just survived a ridiculous road trip, but instead of getting a good night’s sleep, this woman actually brought her child into this world on a dirt floor with sheep and goats hanging around and watching. What a mama. We protestants do not give Mary enough credit.

The birth of Jesus was unique and a little…well, funky. It’s not exactly what you’d expect. As I write this, Prince William and Duchess Kate are expecting their third royal cutie – imagine if tomorrow the headline broke that they were unable to get a room at the hospital so Kate had to deliver in a random barn. It’s not generally how the royals do things. Yet the King of the universe was born in a humble stable, probably with animals around, and probably it didn’t smell much like essential oils at all.

Have you ever thought about why God set it up that way?

As an adult, Jesus talked a lot about how reality is actually upside down from the way we see things. You want to be a good leader? Serve and put others first. You want to be first in line? Let others go in front of you. You want to find a meaningful life? Be willing to let go of the one you’ve carefully built yourself. His life was a well-lived picture of what He always preached to us: Love is different than we think.

Love is a King who wanted no one to be afraid of Him, so He came as a baby, because nobody could be afraid of a baby.

Love means forsaking privilege in favor of connection.

Love speaks any language to win our hearts.

Jesus put on our flesh and our human weakness and elected for the lowliest birth to show us that Love is always willing to get His hands dirty. Love is not afraid of poverty, or messiness, or the complicated and fallen world we have built. No, Love gets right down in the middle of it because He wants to redeem it. Because He wants to redeem us.

This Christmas, we can put our hope in a King who gets it. Jesus could have been born in an immaculate royal chamber with attendants at His mama’s side, and every ancient king and queen and celebrity bringing gifts. He could have dodged the whole uncomfortable “becoming human” thing altogether and figured out another way to save us. Instead, He became one of us. He chose to experience all our struggles, our sicknesses, our hurts, our mess. He chose to arrive as a helpless baby born in the poorest circumstances, rather than storming onto the scene as a powerful King. He did all this voluntarily so that we would know that we serve a God who understands us and our situation firsthand. (I mean, Jesus went through puberty by choice. He must really, really love us.) How can my heart resist being captured by a King like that? And as I sink deeper into that kind of Love, may I humble myself and show the same kind of incredible kindness to others. May we put ourselves in others’ shoes and see through their eyes as much as we can, and may we learn to recognize Jesus in places we’d never expect. Jesus modeled the way toward compassion and understanding for us, so let’s walk in it – and marvel at His ridiculous and overwhelming love.

-c

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Away in a manger, not even a bed
the world’s best bright Hope laid down His little head
the stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay
the King of the world, asleep on the hay. 

Jesus, born in a barn, oh
to capture my heart
to teach me that the grandest things 
look the most humble and small

Mary is smiling, Joseph’s in awe
How could God all fit in a person so small?
You’ll grow up to save us from dogma and fear
but for now, little baby, we’re so glad You’re here

Oh, the King of the world wanted no one to fear
so He came as a baby
Teach me to look for You everywhere
give me new eyes to see You:

…in every homeless face
…in every pride parade
…in every picket line
…in every cardboard sign
…in every knee bowed low
…in every fearful vote 
…in every refugee
…in the broken ones, like me 

Be near me Lord Jesus, please stay
close by me for ever, and every new day
may Your church look more like You, and love with Your love
May we all look around as we learn to look up

Jesus, born in a barn, oh
to capture our hearts
to teach us that the grandest things 
look the most humble and small

6 Responses to Away in a Manger // Advent: An Invitation to Hope

  1. I loved your beautiful singing here! The words that you share here are so true–He’s been teaching more about humbleness through His eyes. He does turn things upside down, doesn’t He? Blessings to you this Season.

  2. Oh my….the song. SO LOVELY. xo

  3. “You want to find a meaningful life? Be willing to let go of the one you’ve carefully built yourself. His life was a well-lived picture of what He always preached to us: Love is different than we think.” Preach it, Sister!

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