I took French in High School and the French verb ‘manger’ (meaning ‘to eat’) is the same exact spelling as the English word, manger.
Well, that’s interesting.
A manger or trough is a rack for fodder, or a structure or feeder used to hold food for animals.
Mangers are mostly used in livestock raising and generally found in stables and at farmhouses. They are also used to feed wild animals, e.g., in nature reserves.
A manger is also a Christian symbol (ah ha!) associated with nativity scenes. (From Wikipedia, except the ‘ah ha’ - that’s me).
I love our manger, the church’s manger. It lives under the Parlor, in the crawl space under the parlor (did you know that there is a crawl space under the parlor? These Advent Devotionals are so instructive, aren’t they?) The church’s manger emerges only for the Christmas Pageant and then when the Pageant is over – zing! - back under the parlor.
When we bring it out for the Christmas Pageant we put a white sheet in it (you know, swaddling cloth).
Yesterday, December 20th, was the Fourth Sunday of Advent. If we were not in a pandemic it would have been the Sunday of the Christmas Pageant. So, the manger would have been in the Sanctuary. I missed that. Seeing the Manger. Seeing the kids. Singing all the many Carols of the Pageant…You may have missed that too.
Good news! The manger is safely tucked under the parlor awaiting yet another year…another Christmas Pageant!
Let’s go back to the beginning of this devotional…manger/manger (French verb for ‘to eat’). No pageant this year, so no manger…but we are, and can be ‘fed’ by Christ’s presence, love, birth and entry into the world.
Scripture teaches that Mary laid the baby Jesus in a manger (Luke 2:7) because there was no room for them in the Inn… yet, what a great place for him, as a baby, at the beginning of his life among us as a ‘God incarnate’. Jesus who will walk among humanity as Word made flesh feeding us with his word, love, and presence.
May the image, idea and truth of the manger and all it means feed you this Advent and Christmas Season.
- Laurie Krooss