A Beautiful Message from a Worn Manger

An old nativity set is a symbol of faith in this classic devotion from Daily Guideposts.

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Guideposts: A home nativity set

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted. —Isaiah 61:1

I wonder if I can keep putting these broken, fragile figures out every year, I mused as I tenderly unwrapped the plaster Nativity pieces from the tissue paper; they’d survived three generations, often rescued from children’s curious hands.

First was a shepherd carrying a lamb with part of a leg missing. It’s an appropriate reminder that sheep, especially broken ones, are totally dependent on the shepherd. Next was an angel with a broken wing and paint-chipped knees, surely from all of the kneeling and praying before going off to take messages, including one to a virgin that she would soon be with child. Then the wise men: there used to be three, but I’m down to two.

Even wise men sometimes lose their way. Ah, Joseph. He’s the most solidly intact, which seems appropriate because that’s the way he stood by Mary’s side. And Mary: she’s got some obvious nicks, but she still reminds me that she said “yes” to God and allowed her life to work the Christmas miracle from the inside out.

Finally I unwrap Baby Jesus. Even He has not been spared the wear and tear. His body is broken; a hand and both feet have been carefully glued back on, which is a powerful reminder about the purpose of His life. I gently place the figures atop the bookcase where I hope they’ll be safe for another season, because their appearance brings deeper reality to the meaning of Christmas for me.

Lord, I, too, stand by the manger, chipped and broken and wondrously grateful that Baby Jesus came to heal people like me.


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