Though the version may change, the message of the stable being the centerpiece of Christmas remains the same.
Were someone to chance upon the stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would have beheld:
The stable smells like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep hangs pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling, and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.
Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They are in awe, no doubt with amazement. Their night watch had been explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him — so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds in the stable.
Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event puzzles him, but he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes he remembers the name the angel told him to use: “Jesus – we will call him Jesus”.
Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby — her son, her lord, her majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is, and what he is doing, is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel: “His kingdom will never end.”
Like that of the newborn calf in the stall next to them, he looked like anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane, holiness in the filth of manure and sweat, divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, though the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.
As she lays him in the manager, she touches the face of the infant-God. “How long was your journey?”
This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen, and worshiping angels had been replaced with kind, but bewildered shepherds.
Meanwhile the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. They would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold of a winter night. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager, residing in the comfort of a stable on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to even consider the possibility.
Those who missed his Majesty’s arrival that night, missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no — they missed it because they simply weren’t looking.
Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it? We have become so far removed from the rigors of reality that we can no longer connect with the miracle of Christmas. The Christmas story seems so far removed from today’s world, that it almost seems unbelievable. The bright lights and tinsel of modern day Christmas has driven Christ further away. The real gift of life has become over shadowed by the gifts of materialism — just stuff!
As the association of time and circumstances continue to drift away from the reality of the miracle of Christmas, it is easy to understand that believing was easier when times were simpler. The reality of the world which man has made is causing many to lose their way.
So, all of you livestock producers, listen up. You’ve got an easier row to hoe than those less fortunate than you. The stable is the centerpiece of your labors as well as the centerpiece of Christmas.
Thank God for livestock at the time of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As we celebrate the season of Christmas, we are reminded of the role that livestock played in the life of Jesus. His very survival at the time of his birth was dependent upon the heat and warmth of a barn full of livestock. To have laid him in a manger, protected from harms way, where the radiant body heat of the animals would keep him warm was as much a part of the miracle as the miracle itself.
The miracle that continues to sustain the world in these difficult times of war, the economy, and terror will continue to give us hope for all eternity. To have been born of the Virgin Mary was miraculous, but to have survived is perhaps the greatest role that livestock has ever played in our lives.
We like to think of livestock as our primary source of protein, nourishment, and satiety value, like that of no other food. For those reasons alone we will always be grateful for God’s creation; especially meat for the table. But how much thought have we ever given that Jesus may never have survived that first night on earth if it hadn’t been for the comfort provided by that lowly barn full of God’s creatures?
Merry Christmas To All!
related story: The Love of a Father
Read more insightful stories written by Ken Knight: PONY TALES by PONTY
Ken E. Knight is the author of the “Knightro Report”, a nationally syndicated livestock-marketing column, which is featured in this publication on a regular basis. Mr. Knight is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a major BS Degree in Meat and Animal Science and a minor in Communications. In addition to being a professional auctioneer, public speaker and livestock judge, he brings many years of corporate level meat and livestock market management and expertise to the industry for which he now serves as an independent voice of shared knowledge and experience.
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For more in-depth information regarding the topics that have been touched upon in this report, Knightro conducts livestock marketing seminars on a regular basis. To schedule a seminar, auction, judging, or speaking engagement, please contact Ken Knight, Knightro, W11911 County Road FF, River Falls, WI 54022, phone toll free 1-877-KNIGTRO, phone 715-262-8480, fax 715-262-8480, e-mail [email protected]t; or contact the Midwest Farm & Livestock Directory at [email protected].