Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Romanticizing the Manger, from Stuff Christians Like

I hope you all had a very wonderful, very Merry Christmas! Christmas isn't quite over yet here at The Start of the Alphabet. My sister and brother-in-law (and baby-to-be!) will come to KnoxVegas this weekend to celebrate the season. I'm excited to extend the festivities even longer! That means I'm still listening to Christmas music, our tree is still up, and I haven't taken the lights down out of my cubicle yet. I'm not complaining!

If you don't read Stuff Christians Like, you should head over there. Jon Acuff is absolutely hilarious, and the things he writes about are SO TRUE, at least in my experience. He even has a book coming out in April! The blog is always a source of a smile or chuckle, and it's on my blog reader for good reason! Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back.

Today, Jon writes about Romanticizing the Manger. (Click the link to view his original post.) And how true it is! From Jon's post:

Have you ever seen paintings of the manger from that fateful night? It looks like Martha Stewart got there a few days before Joseph and Mary arrived. You can almost see her spreading about a winter spice mix she got from Whole Foods to make the air smell all “tingly” and perhaps finding sprigs of Mediterranean evergreens to hang alongside cypress wreathes. Mmmmmm, manger.

And with live nativity scenes being formed at churches across the world last week, I thought it might be a good time for us to put the “mange” back in manger.

Jon goes on to list three things to do to make the manger look more like it probably did when Jesus was born: use mean animals ("donkey's are jerks," Jon says), add spiders (eww!), and don't use costume hay, which is soft and supple, but use REAL hay, which is "pokey" and uncomfortable.

See, we know that Jesus was born in less than glamourous circumstances. We sing about the manger and how lowly and humble the little tiny child was. But when we depict the manger...we want the baby to be comfortable. We want his head to lay on soft hay, surrounded by quiet, tame animals.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't there, but I think Jon is onto something when he points out that donkeys are hard to work with, and laying on real hay involves bugs and getting poked in the ribs. So what if this year, as we are still in the midst of the Christmas season, we stop picturing the manger like this

And start picturing it like this


And yes, that's poop in that stable. I'd add that to Jon's list...to make the manger more realistic, there should be animal poop. And it should smell like it. 

Is it easier to romanticize the manger Jesus was born in than to think about the filth he was surrounded with? How come? How will it change your perspective on the birth of the Christ child to imagine the scene as a dirty place, rather than a place filled with lovely scents and warm light? 

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