One of the first boxes of Christmas decorations we pull from the storage closet in our basement includes a traditional manger scene. While this wooden structure was one we as a DeLancey family bought once the kids were born, I have fond memories of playing with the old manger scene my parents set up on the coffee table each year. I even remember as a young kid adding a few “extra” figures to the stable, figures I don’t think were present 2,000 years ago (e.g. a horse, batman, and my GI Joe soldier). At the center of the stable of course was a wooden manger in which baby Jesus was placed. The manger, however, most likely, was made of stone, not wood. The manger was simply a feeding trough. Amazingly, this served as Jesus’ first bed following His miraculous birth.
Throughout Israel, stone feeding troughs have been discovered by the 100s. While we don’t expect anything made of wood to be preserved, stone feeding troughs can be still seen at places like Megiddo and Bethlehem.
The manger scene, whether it was indeed stone or wood, represents to me the significance of Jesus’ coming. Placed in the manger was God’s answer to sin and evil in the world. It reminds me of a Chris Tomlin song that so wonderfully preserves the purpose of Christ’s coming.
Hallowed Manger Ground:
While I do not recommend any of us to throw out our wooden stable and mangers, I do invite us to direct our praise to the One who came to save us! The one placed in a stone manger came to be the Bread of Life!