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Babies in the manger

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On the Road to Forever
January 2, 2013 | 2,112 views | Post a comment

As I write, it is Dec. 22, 2012. I woke up on the same side of the dirt I went to sleep on and the sun is still rising in the eastern sky. I, personally, would have been pleased to experience the end of the world and exit this retched sinful place. But alas, once again, cooler, calmer, sensible heads prevailed. Sure enough, the ancient Mayan astrologists were correct in their assessment of the movement of the heavens and as one cycle ends, a repeat performance started without the slightest hiccup. Man looks to the heavenly bodies for guidance and security, but is repeatedly disappointed to find the product is nothing but a powerless hoax. I refuse to sit at the table of cosmic roulette wagering on the possibilities of doom and destruction, then waste my time on planning how I’m going to survive the next calamity. As fragile as life is, without warning, I could be dead in the next hour. The two greatest dangers in my life are myself and my fellow man, not the stars. Negotiating the highways and byways of life every day is enough of a diversion to make me forget that everything is under control and the One who writes the rules is still in charge.

It’s amazing to see how low we have stooped when one compares the Proverb of Solomon (15:1) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” to the statement made the other day, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Hang up all the anti-gun signs in our schools you want to, they mean nothing to the unstable mind. Dust off and re-hang the Ten Commandment signs and resume teaching morality, responsibility, and the sanctity of life. Life is fragile. Handle with prayer.

[Hebrews 13:1-8] In a large orphanage of about 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of an unstable Russian government program, two volunteer Western teachers relate this story ... It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for the orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room to stay, the couple went to a stable where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story the children and the orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edge of their stool trying to grasp every word.

Completing the story, the children received materials to fashion a crude manger, a yellow napkin to tear for straw in their manger, small squares of flannel for a baby’s blanket, and a doll-like baby was cut from a piece of tan felt. While inspecting the progress of the children’s work, one teacher stopped at the table where little Misha sat. In the little boy’s manger were not one but two babies. Misha was asked about the babies. Crossing his arms in front of him the child repeated the story. Then he said Jesus asked him if he had a place to stay. “I told Jesus I have no papa, no mama, so I didn’t have a place to stay. He said I could stay with him. I told him I couldn’t, because I had no gift to give him like everyone else. Then I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, would that be a good enough gift?’ He said that would be the best gift anyone ever gave me. So I got in the manger and Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him ... always.”

There’s an old Indian Proverb that says: “What you’re full of will spill out when you’re bumped.” What used to come out of me has been diluted by the love of God. Since I became like a child and crawled into the manger of my Lord, I am warm and safe and loved, forever.

Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at Find his column on his blog at

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