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Away in a manger
​​©Linda Wegner

It's not surprising that I've been humming "Away in a Manger" these days (after all, it is the Christmas season) but actually I've found myself thinking more about wood. Neither humorous nor particularly profound, here are my musings.

Contrary to the pictures we're used to, the crèche wasn't some well-lit, semi-sterile environment filled with scrubbed and subdued cattle – it was near the back of a dark, smelly cave, complete with animals and all that goes with them. One tradition I'll hold to, however, is that the manger was wooden.

Wood was pretty important to Jesus. First of all, he grew up in a carpenter's shop and there was lots of wood there. Joseph must have taught Jesus well because throughout his short but powerful years of ministry, a lot of Jesus' teachings involved the topic of trees. He understood the beauty and the durability of wood and he respected its value. Good lives were called good trees, vile and corrupt individuals were compared to diseased and wasted trees.

There was wood involved throughout his earthly ministry, too. Jesus spent a fair amount of time in a wooden boat and I have no doubt that he looked each one over thoroughly before climbing aboard. This trained carpenter trusted the properties of properly-put-together wood.

Jesus ended his life stretched upon a wooden cross. The first times she held him, Mary picked Jesus up and nursed him, this time she watched and grieved from a distance. The first time, the wood surrounded and cradled him but this time it held him captive. The quality and worth of wood wasn't different – it was how it was used.

As I said, nothing profound, but I pray this season will find each of you strong and healthy, flourishing with the fruitfulness that comes from being rooted in God's faithfulness. Merry Christmas!
Dec. 18, 2017