Manger Beginnings

Manger Beginnings

There are many things we can celebrate at Christmas, the most essential being the gift of our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. To paraphrase a beautiful promise in the book of Daniel, the closer we grow to Him, the more His wisdom will “shine as the brightness of the firmament in us,” and His righteousness through us “as the stars forever and ever.”1 Remembering to pause and take those moments to acknowledge Him allows His Spirit to flow freely in our lives and replaces the stress and strain that bottles up our joy. All we have to do is let that peace flow in, and He goes to work helping it shine out to others.

Christmas marks the beginning of the most wonderful and important relationship we’ll ever have. It’s not just knowing about that babe born in a manger. It’s about our relationship with a friend who sticks closer than a brother, with the one who has made us part of God’s family. It’s about the bond we have with our hero who rescued us from death, who bestows on us all that is His. It’s about the one who is our mentor, guide, and protector, the one we can always trust and rely on, no matter what!

This relationship changes who you are to the very core. That is what Christmas—all year long—is really about.

To celebrate Jesus this Christmas I’d like to share some reflections on my favorite quotes about Christmas.

Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.—Thomas S. Monson

Jesus’ love was at the center of all that He did for humankind. His was a life of giving. He gave up His life in heaven to come to this world. He gave up the unimaginable riches of His kingdom to live on earth without even a place to call His own. He gave His time, His strength, and His reputation among many of the supposedly righteous to seek out the beggars, the outcasts, the sick and dying who could never offer anything of this world in return for all He offered them. He laid down His own life in order to rescue us from the pitfalls of sin, and He did it purely out of love for us.

Why did He do that? To help us to understand what the essence of God is. He gave us the example of how to develop that nature in us, how by His grace we can become children of the Most High. As we discover the joy of helping to bring His love to others, we grow His kingdom. We experience a touch of God’s joy when we emulate His giving without seeking anything in return. We might seem to lose in the moment, but in the end, we gain far more.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.—Roy L. Smith

Sometimes we may be tempted to attach too much importance to the traditions of Christmas, like trees and music and celebrations. Even giving gifts and doing good deeds have to have gratitude at their core or they lose their greatest value. Jesus chose to live for our sakes, to pour out His life for our sakes and to overcome death for us. He was the ultimate gift, given by the ultimate gift giver—God. He gave us a living, breathing, tangible example to follow; the most perfect illustration of unconditional, unlimited, all-inviting love.

So let’s follow His example.

Christmas is the day that holds all time together.—Alexander Smith

Have you ever wondered why Jesus came to earth when He did? I wonder if it might have been to illustrate that He is the center of everything. He brings sense out of all that came before His life on earth, and He brings the promise of all that is ours to claim through Him. He walked with Adam in the garden in the beginning, and He walked with humankind when He became a human in this world. He will come again to unite His children in His eternal kingdom. Christmas is a reminder that He is the focal point of our existence.

The Son of God became a man so that men could become the sons of God.—C. S. Lewis

When people look at the story of a baby in a manger and angels singing and the wise men visiting, I wonder if they truly grasp what this event means for humankind. Jesus, who had everything, gave it all up, and His birth marked the beginning of the transformation from the earthbound, time-constrained, sin-prone existence of this temporary life into the supernatural, eternal, unfathomable wonder and beauty of eternity. An existence immersed in unbounded joy, purpose, and oneness with the King of all! It marks the arrival of the gift of perfect love.

Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.—George Whitefield

Jesus was the personification of God’s care for humankind. He was God’s merciful offer of rescue to a world drowning in folly. He was a living demonstration of how far God’s love is willing to go, even to the point of appearing in a form that we could understand.

I pray that your life will be filled with God’s Spirit this Christmas and that His many wonderful blessings will be yours in the coming year.

1. Adapted from Daniel 12:3.

Maria Fontaine

Maria Fontaine

Maria Fontaine is the spiritual and administrative co-director (along with her husband, Peter Amsterdam) of the Family International, a Christian community of faith dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. She is the author of numerous articles on the Christian faith life. (Articles by Maria Fontaine used in Activated are adapted.)

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