Facetiously I told the girls..."I really want you to be as much like Jesus as you can, so tonight you are sleeping in the barn, maybe naked, but you'll get a few rags that we'll call swaddling cloths." This comment said in jest, turned into one of the highlights of our Christmas season. After a delightful family visit on December 24th (spending the day on our farm with my family: Laura, Sarah, Caleb, David, Violet, Monty, and Mom) our smaller gang of 6 gathered blankets, candles, coats, the Bible and a hymnal and headed to the hayloft. For the past 4 weeks we have been having evening family devotions centered around advent meditations. We continued in that same vein while moving temporarily to the barn.
We arranged a clearing on the floor of the hayloft and lit four candles in glass jars. After arranging ourselves in various ways on the hay (one of us swinging from the rafters as the high hay piles gave access to new heights) we were able to think about Jesus in new perspectives. The hay was scratchy, and we knew from experience it probably had some spiders. The barn was drafty yet cozy, and held the smell of animals along with the foreign sounds of the horses' movements beneath us. The animals were confused by our presence, and I wonder how the animals responded when Mary and Joseph entered their space. Maybe there were no animals there as the season for sheep being in the fields was upon them. I still find it appalling that God would allow His Son, His Heir and co-Creator of all creation, to make His physical appearing to mankind in the context of a used feeding trough. Really, how deplorable. I would never, of my own free will, lay my child in a feeding trough or manger. "Away in the Manger" took on a more substantial meaning as we sang with scratchy-though-sincere voices as we inhaled the dust from the hay into our lungs.
The past two days I have interacted at Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House with the Matheny's, our friends whose daughter has leukemia. As I visited with Kim, the mom, she told me with tears in her eyes, that she would do anything to stop her daughter's suffering, anything. Kim has spent the past month watching Kierra go through a bone marrow transplant, seemingly coming as close to death as possible, with the hopes that she'll make a recovery. Kim proceeded to tell me that she sees God's love for us in a whole new way. He sent His Son into suffering and had the power to stop any struggle, but never did because of His great love for us. How truly foreign Love is. Only Love Himself can define Love. The world offers us many definitions for love, and broken meanings of Christmas to boot, but Love in the form of a suffering servant, born in a dirty stable is not love in the dictionary of our self-gratifying soul.
The Love of our God coming to earth in a stable is contradictory to the world and divinely marvelous! How thankful we are as a family to celebrate Christmas in our hayloft with the Love of our Saviour burning brighter than the candlelight.