By Larry Patton
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:6,7
Last Saturday, the Ministry to Men Leadership Team and I hosted our Manger Build Breakfast at my church. It was one of the most exciting and impactful events we have ever done as part of our ministry. I was first exposed to the Manger Build concept back in September at a national men’s conference. The Noble Warriors organization out of Midlothian, VA developed and designed the Manger Build program. Around 100 churches across the country hosted Manger Builds this month.
You might be asking yourself, what is a Manger Build? A Manger Build is where dad’s build a life-sized manger with their children on a Saturday before Christmas. The wood is precut and ready. The wood, nails and instructions are given to each family at the build. The only things that dads provided were the hammer and a positive attitude. It provided a wonderful opportunity of fun and excitement for 55 dads and their children as they spent focused time working on building a manger together.
Once the build began, 55 hammers pounding nails all at the same time caused the noise level to be very high, but that was okay and exciting. The Manger Build itself is only the beginning because the dads were able to take their manger home and place it in front of their Christmas tree. We encouraged the dads to set their manger in front of their Christmas tree as a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas rather than focusing on the lights, food and tinsel this Christmas.
We also provided each of the Dads with a seven day follow up devotional to use each night to assist in celebrating the greatest gift of all time. I have been praying for weeks that the Lord would use the Manger Build process to impact families in my church in a powerful way during this Christmas season.
During the build, I began thinking about what a manger was used for. A manger was a feeding trough for domesticated animals. The Greek term for manger is found only four times in the New Testament. Three of these instances are in the nativity narrative of Luke and are translated with the English word manger (Luke 2:7, 12, 16). The fourth occurrence, also in Luke’s Gospel, is translated manger in the RSV and NEB, but “stall” in the KJV and NIV, in Luke 13:15.
The most common Old Testament equivalent is the Hebrew term translated “crib”, or “stall”, in Job 39:9, Proverbs 14:4, and Isaiah 1:3. The context of these passages favors the use of the Greek word for manger.
The bottom line is that a manger was a dirty, smelly, unclean, and filthy place. It is hard for me to imagine that my Lord and Savior, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, spent the first few days of His life in a stable lying in a manger. It is not how Hollywood would have scripted it. During this Christmas season, we all need to be reminded that our Lord does not always do things the way we think He should do them. We need to be thankful for that.
We were reminding the dads and the children as nails were being bent and legs were uneven that Jesus’ manger was not perfect. On Saturday, on the dad’s stated that if you have uneven legs it is easier to rock baby Jesus.
What were Mary and Joseph thinking or pondering when their long journey ended with no room but a manger?
Remember Jesus is the reason for the season! On behalf of Hurdling Handicaps and myself, we would like to wish you and your family a wonderful and joyous Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.