Shadows Cast on the Manger
† IHS †
May you know the awe of the shepherds as you realize your salvation is near!
On us a light has shined…
I am trying to imagine what it must have been like, during the dark hours when the angels appeared. When Isaiah’s prophecy we heard tonight, a moment that would change the world, and change us.
Isaiah tells us the in our greatest darkness a light has shined, and for the shepherds, there at the stable, the glory was unbelievable, a moment that would never be forgotten. The time was now, Christ was here.
As they rush to Bethlehem, as they look into the stable, were the shadows cast over the Baby there in the manger? As the stars shone done upon the very glory of God, was there enough starlight to see the glory they had been told about?
As I stand here, as you will come up to this place, and stand before this altar, what shadows will be cast, and will they obscure the glory of God with us? For each of us this night cast a shadow, but will we find ourselves free of them, as Christ is revealed? Till we realize the only shadow that would remain, and that now… it too has gone.
The shadows cast…until we kneel in adoration
The shadows I am talking about, symbolize those things in our lives that can turn these days into something less than a joyous party. Maybe it is that we are missing someone. Maybe it is the stress over relationships that are broken, anxieties over health, or finances, or just our own sin. Or maybe, it’s that I am so busy trying to get all the ministry done, that I forget to be amazed at the love of God, that is revealed to us!
Shadows darken the room, they threaten cause us fear, they would cause us to not see the babe in the manger, or understand that this great light that has come, has come to be an end to the shadows, and end to the darkness.
The challenge is seeing past the shadows, seeing the brilliant glory of this child, this baby laying in a manger. It looks so peaceful and serene, the shadows so ominous, so threatening.
We need to see Jesus more clearly, we need to understand that He is here for us.
We need to understand this scene is about God coming into our world, into our darkness, invading it. That this babe we sing about in Mary’s lap, and artist would eventually render like this. (slide of crucified Jesus.)
I am not sure she ever held him like that, but the picture is clear… there is one shadow over him, that would not be taken away. The shadow of the cross.
But that shadow is glorious – for it leads to the resurrection and reveals a glory of God that is only hinted about here. The salvation promised by the angels, the salvation that God had planned for, even before Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and creation fell.
The One shadow remains…
Often we see the pictures of the manger with Mary and Joseph, with an Angel above the roof juncture of the barn, of the shepherds, and the kings moving to bow before Christ, to worship Him, to adore Him.
They are falling to their knees, and the shadows they cast are no longer long, the shadows no longer cover His face. They know the moment is special, just as when we kneel here, before His altar, before His Throne, but struggle with what it means that Jesus the Christ is here… with us…
Until we remember that the Babe in the manger is the Lord who gives us His body and blood, broken and shed for our sakes. Broken and shed because as we realize that love, His glory shines, not just from heaven, but into our lives, into our hearts.
For there, as we dwell in His presence, the shadows cease.. the cross becomes not a shadow, but a glorious message of love – a love that overcomes the darkness….
For unto us a child is born…unto us He is given,
and unto a light – His glory is shining…
So come and kneel, not because of the porcelain baby, but because here, you will know the depth of His love, as your shadows are loosened and left behind, as you are fill with His mercy and peace, as we are reminded why Christmas is here.. to prove to us that the Lord is with you – and that He loves you!