Beloved of St. Paul’s,
A manger is a food trough, a common place where all the animals gather to eat. It is the last place we might expect to find a newborn King, and yet, we do. Bethlehem is overcrowded; there is no room in the inn. No room for Mary, Joseph, and ultimately, the Christ Child. The stable will have to do. The animals’ food trough will be the place where a lovingly swaddled Jesus is gently placed to “lay down his sweet head” for the first time.
What does that say about Jesus? To me, it says that Jesus feeds us. The manger is not in a palace with elaborate gates and restricted access; it is in a stable, a communal, rustic space, open and accessible to all of us. Like the lowly shepherds, we are beckoned to the manger and welcomed to “taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).” At the birth of Jesus, there is a place for us all. At the birth of Jesus, hope is restored and we are all given the bread of life. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry would say, “There’s plenty of good room in God’s Kingdom.” You and I have a place at the manger. You and I have a place at the table.
You and I have a place at St. Paul’s. At St. Paul’s Christ feeds us in Word and Sacrament. The Body of Christ at St. Paul’s feeds us through music, fellowship, formation, and hospitality. We aspire to be Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Hands to all. We continue to grow, and I truly believe it is because when you come to St. Paul’s you are being fed. It is a place of spiritual nourishment and sacred sustenance. We are at the manger. We are fed by Christ at St. Paul’s.
Let’s not forget that we are, with Christ born in us, a vital part of His body, and always called more deeply into the ministry of feeding: physically and spiritually, with “ourselves, our souls, and our bodies (BCP 342).”
O Come, let us adore Him.
The Reverend Caleb J. Lee