It may seem strange, but as I reflect on Christmas this year, I’ve been thinking about the donkey dung that surely surrounded the manger in which the baby Jesus laid.
Seminary has been a journey full of theological formation, and my Christmas theology has been no exception. In my Systematic Theology 1 course last semester, my professor Dr. Vitor Westelle was teaching on “revelation” and was discussing God’s revelation in unexpected ways. He pointed out: Who would have expected that the manifestation of the divine would be in a manger filled with donkey dung?! Only faith can see the Savior in the middle of a smelly manger.
Christ appeared in the smelly manger, into the rough city of Bethlehem, and into a harsh and struggling world. Sometimes I get caught up in the smelliness and harshness of the world today. I think of the War in Iraq, the genocide in Sudan, AIDS in Africa, and the homeless on the streets of Chicago. Although when I reflect on the smelly manger, I am filled with hope. This Christmas I reflect upon the grace of God, that like the little baby appearing in a smelly manger, still shows up today amidst the smelliest circumstances we could ever fathom. This grace may not appear where we would expect it, but it comes where we need it the most. May Christ’s Spirit bring you all the grace and peace of Christmas.