My first trip abroad was a life-long dream to see the Bible come alive in the places where our Lord Jesus walked and ministered when He was on earth. I was to leave the day after Christmas and return after the New Year.
Included under the Christmas tree was a small package: Slippers for me to wear on the long flight to Israel. I was to join a Tour of Bible Lands from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as a huge gift from my husband and children.
Our young children were excited with me. “What can I bring you from Israel?” I asked.” Our daughter had a great idea: “Bring our family a new manger scene, Mother,” she said and began to sing: “O Little Town of Bethlehem…”
Our son chimed in, “I want a picture of my Mamma riding a camel and bring me a leather camel whip!”
I looked at my husband and raised my eyebrows, indicating the question.
Bill said, “Have a wonderful time and come back safely to me.” We both smiled.
Touring Bible Lands
The memorable trip was a wonderful adventure. I bought a camel whip from a vendor; the requested photo of Mamma riding a camel was in the camera. Our guide took us to a reputable shop in Bethlehem to buy souvenirs and I selected a beautiful hand-carved olive wood manger set. We were going to Jordan and Egypt so I couldn’t carry the manger. I’d never before been abroad and had no experience about having packages shipped so far. I trusted our guide and believed the package I had purchased for my family would eventually get to the United States.
Back at home, weeks passed and the olive wood manger I bought in Israel had not been sent. “You’ve been ripped off!” my husband insisted. But I persisted, “Just wait.”
Every day in anticipation, my children asked, “Did it come?”
A Manger In Our Easter Basket
Finally, just before Easter, the manger arrived. The family gathered round, excited to open the package from Israel. All were delighted with the beautiful hand-carved olive wood figures. A stable with a star carved into the top, a cow, a donkey, a shepherd carrying a sheep, some extra sheep, three camels, three wise men carrying gifts, Joseph holding a lantern, lovely Mary, and baby Jesus in a manger. The children arranged and re-arranged the pieces on our den coffee table.
What can I learn from the MANGER AT EASTER TIME? I pondered that question for several days…with the family and in solitude waiting for a “still small voice” of insight.
I remembered the Christian shopkeeper was excited as he pointed to the head of the Christ-child. Rather than a baby’s head was the man-sized head of our Savior, Emmanuel! Yes, God is with us!
Then and now, at Easter time and throughout the year. Easter is the fulfillment of what was birthed at Christmas.
The Music of Handel’s Messiah
I love Handel’s magnificent oratorio, titled simply, “Messiah.” Straight out of Scripture, the portions include: prophecy of Messiah, sufferings and death of Christ, and the Resurrection! Do you know the Easter numbers? The popular “Hallelujah Chorus” ends Part II in the score.
Listen to these splendid pieces: “Behold the Lamb of God,” “Worthy is the Lamb,” “Since By Man Came Death” and “I know that my Redeemer Liveth.”
Your soul will be thrilled by every word and note!
I don’t leave our manger scene out all year for it’s not a shrine! But before I put it away this year, I took pictures to encourage you Mississippi Moms!
Look again closely at the photo of the Baby Jesus. Remember today that God is with you. Jesus is your Emmanuel in whatever experience of life you are having! He became your Savior and mine on the cross and by His Resurrection conquered death! Praise Him for “The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world!” Christians are Easter people!
The Holy Bible
Do you know each part of the wondrous Gospel story? The Old Testament Prophecy; the Foretelling by the forerunner, John-the Baptist; the birth of Jesus, laid in a stable manger; God with us, our Emmanuel! Jesus, our Savior on the Cross; our Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ who conquered death and appeared to disciples; The Ascension of Jesus, to be with the Father; the gift of His presence through the Holy Spirit, our Inner Compass and Comforter, who enables believers to live triumphant lives now and forever! Anticipate the triumphant Second Coming of Jesus! Hallelujah! Amen.
Keep Easter in your heart all year! With love from Nana…and PawPaw too!