Christmas is about Jesus. We’ve heard this many times from different Christmas specials that talk about the “true meaning of Christmas.” While this is true and the sentiment is better than the secular idea of Christmas existing for the sole purpose of giving presents and spending time with family, this concept is still often expressed in a sub-optimal manner.
There’s a common theme of trying to maximize the cuteness of this liturgical holiday in nativity scenes, songs, paintings, and those weird little statues that grandmas tend to love so much. While I’m sure Jesus Christ was a cute li’l thing, this is not in any way an important aspect of this holiday. This is why Away In A Manger isn’t a great hymn for church: it’s less gospel and more lullaby. If you will, put yourself into the shoes of God’s people at that time. You and your people have been clinging for thousands of years to God’s promise that He will send a savior to atone for the sins of the world and set aright what man broke under the influence of Satan. You have no idea when this is coming. You have seen no savior, yet you trust the word of God and have hope in His name. Then on a blessed night of wonder, God fulfills His long-awaited promise by sending God into the world to humble Himself to take on mortal flesh. The amazing and glorious part of this isn’t the appearance of the child, but it’s that God is right there as a human being in the flesh! The One from the beginning with the Father, the One who led Israel by pillars of cloud and fire, the One who spoke to the prophets is this boy born of Mary in Bethlehem who rests in a manger.
Thankfully, we still have a lot of advent left to spend contemplating the wonder of God in the flesh and what that means for us. May that same Jesus Christ be with you always. Amen.