Thank God for livestock at the time of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Remember the barn, and how it was once the centerpiece of our very existence, not even comparable to that of the birth place of Jesus. The stable has since become the centerpiece of our lives.
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 harm’s 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, economics, 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.
For it is written: Luke 2 vs. 3-14.
The message is as clear and relevant today as it was then. The only difference is that we’ve had Jesus since that point in time to sustain our lives and give us hope for all of eternity.
As real as the message is to our lives, one would have to concede that those of us that grew up with livestock, perhaps have an easier time relating than those that are generations removed from the ardors of the stable.
Remember when the barn was the focal point of the farm: when the barn up-staged the house and every other building on the farmstead. More time was spent in the barn then in the house, and certainly a lot more maintenance, upkeep, and money were spent in this arena. It was a lifestyle that left little doubt about believing in the Christmas miracle.
The stable was the focal point of our very existence. It was our source of income, food for the table, and often housed our only source of enabling power.
Horsepower, for many, was the only means of transportation in the cold of the winter months. I remember riding to school in a horse driven sleigh, buying groceries, and attending church, as there was no other means of transportation. The roads were drifted shut with high banks of snow, and temperatures were so cold that most vehicles wouldn’t start. Impassable roads were improvised in open fields and wind swept prairies. Cars were housed under snow banks until the warmth of spring would thaw them out. The Christmas miracle seemed so real!
Milking the cows and selling the beef and pork was our primary source of income. Without the barn, none of this would have been possible. Relating to the barn was as second nature as that of visualizing Jesus lying in a manger in the comfort of all those livestock.
The sights, sounds, and smells of the barn instilled memories that will linger with me forever. There was nothing more welcoming than walking into a warm bam, the smell of freshly mowed alfalfa hay, the clean golden comfort of fluffed-up straw, and the baaing of a new born lamb. There may not have been room in the Inn for Jesus, but I’m convinced that this was part of the plan, as the stable has become symbolic for all of mankind to remember.
Unfortunately man has become so far removed from the rigors of reality, that he 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 and further away; until the real gift of life has become overshadowed by the gifts of materialism — just stuff!
If the young people of today could only experience the feeling of waking up with frost on the end of their nose, or walking through a blinding snow storm to get to the barn, perhaps the miracle of Christmas would become more real. I remember tying a string; several hundred feet long, between the barn and the house to keep from losing our way — unfortunately, many have already lost their way!
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.
Am I suggesting that we turn back in time, or that things were better when we didn’t have electricity, television, e-mail, etc? Though I do wonder about that, there are no definitive answers, implied or otherwise. Progress is wonderful, but progress at the expense of condemnation, peace, and the void of the Christmas miracle is too high a price to pay!
Jesus paid the ultimate price of dying, that we might live and be reborn into all of eternity. We can’t cash in on that price if we don’t believe. If it takes acquiring a donkey and building a little stable to get grounded — then do it! A “kick in the ass” wouldn’t hurt most of us. Just believe, it’s the best insurance policy you’ll ever own, and it’s free.
All of you livestock producers, listen up! You’ve got an easier row to hoe than those less fortunate. The stable and the manger are the centerpiece of your labors as well as the centerpiece of Christmas. Be more understanding of those less fortunate and show more leadership in spreading the good word of the miracle of Christmas. For those of us that know the difference, there comes an obligation of helping to save those that have not heard. Livestock producers are known to be pretty good at spreading it.
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.