By Tony Tench
What is the usual reaction when someone sees a baby? We smile! We just can’t help it. If you see a baby coming in a stroller, or bundled up in a parent’s hug, you look and you smile. No one ever stops to look at a baby with a frown or a stare of indifference. We have to smile!
So, when we look into the manger this Christmas, be prepared to break out in an ear to ear grin because there is great reason to do so.
I was so impressed with the text sung by our Heartsong Elementary Choir during last Sunday’s Hanging of the Green Service. They sang with all their hearts these words:
“When I look into the manger, I see more than a baby. I see the Savior of the world.”More than a Baby by Ruth Elaine Schram
What a great text for this Advent season as we prepare ourselves to join the Shepherds and peer over the edge of the manger putting the eyes of our hearts upon the sight of the newborn King. When we look into the manger, we have to smile because this is what we see bundled up there:
God Loves Us! The Gospel declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16. Folks, please realize, that regardless of where life finds you today, you are loved by God himself. He has come to dwell among us and know first hand all that we humans experience. This is the gift of love to our hearts in response to which we have to smile.
God Saves Us! As Paul wrote to the Roman church, so we are thankful this Advent, “God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. Yes, we are smiling with praise because Jesus came to forgive our bent to turn away from God and go our own way. In his death, he saves us from this sin by conquering sin and death, its product, and making it possible for us to have abundant life. Like the artwork painted by our youth to benefit missions depicting the nativity scene but painted onto a cross, so is the reality of the life of Christ — he was born to die for sinners like us! This good news makes our hearts, and faces, smile!
God is with Us! Yes, when we look into the manger, we have to smile because we remember what was said of this baby, i.e. “His name shall be called Emmanuel, which means God with us” Matthew 1:23. He is with us ALWAYS! As our youth taught us on Sunday, this is the very reason we decorate our church and our homes with evergreens during the Advent Season. Evergreens are ALWAYS green. They live through EVERY season of the year. They remind us that Jesus, God with us, is present with us and for us in every season of life that we face! His presence never leaves us alone.
Yes, when we look into the manger we see more than a baby, we see that God loves us, God is with us and, with the Heartsong Choir, we see the Savior of the world!
So, we smile on!
Our mission, then, is to tell people “why” we are smiling!