It was only about the third year in our marriage when my wife came home with a last minute toy she’d purchased for our son for Christmas. It was a plastic jeep he could sit on and ride. He was at that point too small to ride it, but she said he’d grow into it. I thought her purchase a bit premature and foolish. But it turned out to be one of the best gifts she ever bought him. Our son began riding it all the time. It was his favorite toy. There were some hills around the house, and he’d ride it down those hills as fast as he could.
At last, the wheels and the rudimentary steering system wore out. But my father was handy with a metal lathe and a welding machine, and he crafted from some metal a steering system and wheel supports that would outlast our son’s youth and the toy’s plastic body. When I stop and think on that Christmas gift so early in our life as a family, I’m amazed at what a life it took on. It gave our son endless hours of pleasure. It was acquired in love; it was repaired with love; it was a symbol of our family circle.
God at Christmas took a manger—a dirty, scruffy manger, and made it the symbol of a royal bed for God’s beloved Son. Back of that symbol stands the affirmation of the Gospel according to John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Thank you God for your love—a love that transforms our things such as mangers and our ordinary human lives so that your love shines through. Amen.