A manger is where you put the hay in the stable so the cows or other animals can feed; It’s where you put the food or fodder, from which the domestic animals are nourished It is the place where the Infant Jesus was laid…as soon as his homeless mother Mary delivered Him into the world… no room except amongst the animals
Later on, when he was a young man, amongst the respectable people in the synagogue of Capernaum he would declare
‘I am the bread of life..
The one who comes to me will not be hungry,
The one who believes in me will never thirst…
I am the living bread
Which has come down from heaven
Anyone who eats this bread will live forever..’
Many, we are told, found this talk intolerable,. They would not accept it, they left him and accompanied him no more. [John 6]
On the night before he died, Jesus took bread and wine, gave it to his disciples, and said
‘Take and eat: this is my body, given for you
‘Take and drink, this is my blood, poured out for you and for all…’
Bread of life from the first moment of his existence, to the final moment…
He is our Master. He is the one we follow. It is because of him we come out on this cold night. He, his story and his words warm us, give us hope, give us life, in this frosty world, this world of failed and failing human endeavour, this world of sin. Year after year we drink in the story, we eat the bread
We come precisely because we are part of this failing and sinful world and we need a Saviour.
His coming is not as we expect. He still lives amongst the outcasts and the condemned. That’s where we’ll find him.
Not where there is too much respectability, or popularity.
So at a time of great turmoil in the church, when we are angry and shattered by the things done and the things failed to do by our leaders and our shepherds, when the very church is torn apart by terrible sin, and destruction of childhoods and lives, this night brings us face to face with the fundamental fact and truth that is our light and life: Jesus, infant in the manger, speaker in the synagogue, criminal on the cross…
But bread of life for us, blood of eternal salvation, child of Mary and Son of God.
So whatever happens to the deeply sinful structures and the institution, or even to failed leaders and shepherds,
For love’s sake, for the sake of Hope in our times, and light in our darkness,
O come all you faith-full,
O come ye. O come ye, to Bethlehem
Come and behold him,
Born the King of Angels
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him
Christ the Lord
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