Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Ponderings...of Babies, Mangers and More.

It's Christmas Eve morning, early morning that is, with a baby in swaddling clothes who doesn't sleep all that soundly. Her manger bed of comfy flannel, cuddly teddy, lulling aquarium doesn't seem to encourage as much rest as I require. And so, we lay on the couch by the glowing tree, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. She's all eyes at the twinkling lights and the glow of the tree reminds me of the very familiar nativity picture that we all know of. The one with the baby Jesus and his parents encompassed with glowing halos, the light shining around them. I imagine though, that was not the sight in the tiny stable, or cave as it may likely have been. The sight was probably not as elaborate as Christmas cards display. I imagine it to have been dark, a mix of pungent staleness and sweet smelling straw. Perhaps a a chill from the dampness of the animals yet an exuding warmth because of it's safety and shelter from the outside elements. Maybe there was a faint glow cast in by the moon and stars. Hardly a place to imagine a baby being born and yet a relief would've filled them to find a place to lay.The only experience I'm familiar with is that of a hospital room and professional help. What a wondrous fear and trust in the plan of God that it entailed for Joseph and Mary There are so many details to wonder about it all, many we can only imagine. I've heard the story all my life and as much as I can imagine all the details, this year, I took note of a simple fact in the story that held new interest for me.

I was reading in Luke and it stood out to me anew how it is mentioned twice that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling cloths. Luke 2:7 states 'And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger'.  Maybe it's because I have a baby with whom there's always a blanket carried along that this detail resounds with me this year. It's interesting that that the sign given to the shepherds to identify that the baby Jesus as Messiah was that "you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."Luke 2:12. Those details are obviously so significant, especially from the mouths of angels; details orchestrated by God, and yet they seem so plain and ordinary. It would seem so much more spectacular if the sign would have been to find a baby with glowing halos surrounding the family. So then why are the simple swaddling cloths so significant?

I did a bit of research and it seems there are many ideas out there. Explanations of the cloths being the same as burial cloths signifying that the Christ baby was born to die for mankind. Or that it may have been significant to the shepherds because their custom was to take the firstborn lamb from their flock as the sin offering. They would wrap it in swaddling cloths and place it in a manger to keep it safe and without blemish until it was stronger to go to it's mother. Again a foreshadowing of Christ being the sacrificial lamb. Also that it was custom to wrap babies in strips of cloth to bind it tightly so as to keep the baby from injuring itself and it was believed that it help the baby to grow stronger limbs. It would have also been a source of comfort and warmth much as the same reason we still wrap our babies today. However in those days that absence of these cloths would have been a sign of poverty, generally the rich or royalty would have their babies wrapped. This would have been significant to the shepherds, because a baby wrapped in rich man's clothes and lying in a feed trough would have been an incredible irony and sign to them. The cloths signify the royalty of Jesus, coming from the Davidic line and that he was born in the city where David was born. The angels declared 'for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'Luke 2:11. How odd and amazing it would have been for them to search for royal blood in a barn.
And then maybe the mention of swaddling cloths was maybe simply to affirm to the shepherds that they were looking for a BABY. That a baby wrapped in  humble clothes of the world was the Savior come to clothe the world in robes of righteousness. For all those willing to seek him and tell the news as the shepherds did.

As a mom there is an instinct within that when I hold a baby I want to wrap and hold it close. Although my physical circumstances are much more comfortable than Mary's would have been I can relate to the feeling she would have had in wrapping her baby. Even though I can hardly comprehend the awe she would have had in beholding her Holy child, there are so many details to the story that one can't help but be drawn in and feel as though we are all part of the narrative. God's intentions exactly. I love how it's Holy yet humble, angels from high to shepherds so low, the gift of Love come down wrapped up for us to receive.

Luke 2:19, such a poignant verse; But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Isnt' that what we are to do each year at Christmas, why we keep celebrating? We eat, drink and be merry; we prepare for weeks and praise with song. Amidst all that, let's take time to ponder the Baby in our hearts, to rekindle the glow within ourselves. For that is where He really resides; born into the lowliness of ourselves and that His life may shine through us.

This Christmas may you be wrapped in the warmth and  light of His Love.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.” John 8:12


(It took me nearly five days to complete a post, hence the reason for the day started and the day I actually posted. Ponderings come in short spurts amidst the busyness of my household:)

No comments:

Post a Comment