One of my favorite Christmas songs is Joy to the World. It was written in 1719 by the English minister and hymn writer Isaac Watts. The line in the song that always captures my heart is, “let earth receive her king.” Christmas time is often flooded with receiving people. Guests from out of town. Family and friends for dinner. It’s a lot of work to receive people, isn’t it? With Thanksgiving just in the rearview mirror, we know the weight of receiving people. Getting ready for guests is a lot of work because we want things to look presentable. Sometimes we even want things to look perfect. Luckily, we have Pinterest to give us an unrealistic standard to try to live up to.

But how do you receive a king? That’s the invitation given by Watts, “let earth receive her king.” We know how we receive celebrities. We roll out the red carpet. The red carpet goes back thousands of years to Greek Mythology where the gods were welcomed with a red carpet to walk. We make sure that they’re cared for and received with the type of pomp and circumstances they deserve. But Listen to the way the first king was received,

6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)

According to the first Christmas story, what do you need to receive Jesus? You need a manger.

A manger wasn’t a Pottery Barn bassinet. It was a simple wood structure, filled with hay, that they’d put animal (probably sheep) feed into. Strange, isn’t it? You’d think that a king would deserve a royal welcome in a temple, palace, or cathedral. But he didn’t. What if Jesus is still drawn to mangers? What if he enters now the way he entered then?

Do you know what that’s great news? Because you have a manger. A manger is normal and messy. You have a normal and messy life, just like I do.

A manger is a part of our life we’d like to fast-forward through or the part of our life we’d like to rewind and redo. That’s what a manger is – and those are the very areas that Jesus wants to enter. He wants to meet us in the mundane and the mess. That’s always been the way of God and it’s still his way today.

You have a manger; will you welcome him today? He’s standing at the door of your heart knocking.

Pastor Ryan Paulson
Lead Pastor 

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