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Who is that Baby in a Manger?

Who is that Baby in a Manger?

Every year, of my childhood, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, Christmas pageant practice began. The characters were the same every year, the players different.

We sat in wooden pews, lines of grade-schoolers, and waited for the announcement of who would play Mary and Joseph. The revelation always sparked envy, admiration, or vanity. The angels came next, then the shepherds and wise men were named. Sometimes even animals had parts with costumes of sheep, cows or camels. A living star shone above a wooden shed built and carried into the sanctuary each year. Herod, the bad dude and his evil cohorts had parts too around a throne big enough for ten kids. The leftovers made up a choir of children who jostled and joked throughout every practice. There were robes for the shepherds, crowns for the wise men, wings and sparkly halos for the angels, and a manager full of straw with a fake baby Jesus swaddled in a blanket.

It was the most looked forward to event of the entire year, and every time, I felt like I was a participant of the real first Christmas story.

In all the sweetness of Christmas, its magic and traditions, it is far too easy to become trapped by the legend at the detriment of truth.

Who is that baby in the manger?

This is the question our celebration revolves around. We can completely overlook its focus in our interaction with our children, because it requires intentionality.

Here are three questions in the Biblical account that may help harness what we present to our children about the birth that changed history.

  1. “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34.

This question, asked by Mary, is essential to the story and profound in its truth. The Deity of Christ is foundational to the Christmas story. The extraordinary birth of Jesus came about supernaturally. His Father unlike others was sinless and holy. Who is that baby in the manger? He is the Divine Son of God.

  1. “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke 1:43.

All of Scripture points to Jesus. Prophecies of His coming all throughout the Old Testament are parts of the story that give credence and never cease to amaze. Elizabeth in her question to Mary recognized the yet unborn Christ as the prophesied Savior. Who is that baby in the manger? He is God incarnate, the Promised One.

  1. “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” Matthew 2:2.

As the plot thickens, the wise men’s question to Herod sets in motion a series of events set for His destruction. Herod’s actions reflect a world unwilling to accept a baby in a manger born to set them free by death on a cross. Who is that baby in a manger? He is the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, the One who came to give His life for us.

The Bible account is full of details we miss if we aren’t reading it to our children. As they hear it, they will discover details that inspire wonder and imagination, like a church pageant playing through their minds. The more often you read it as a family, the more they become participants within the story.

No manger scene, no play, no movie or ornament could ever even begin to portray the full picture of Christ, but the questions we can’t answer, the sticky difficult ones, are incentives for discovery. Children need to be aware that Jesus’ coming is bigger, greater, more powerful than we can explain. Christmas questions might be hard to answer, but our children should never be afraid to voice them. In their minds, it is the story from which all the rest of faith springs.

May every year bring a clearer and more expanded understanding of Jesus as you and your family lift Him from the manger and worship Him as risen Lord.

By: Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. Mom to four, grandma to 13, and wife to her one and only love, she enjoys writing about all of them. Find her blog at When the House is Quiet. Like her Facebook page or follow her on twitter.

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us at Just 18 Summers!

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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