It was St. Francis of Assisi who first popularized the Christmas manger. Wanting to see how Christ was born with his own eyes, he had a stable and some images made before Christmas and then invited his neighbors and frieds to come and join him at his “Bethlehem.”
As we look on our manger, may the Christmas story unfold before our eyes, too.
Listen to the Holy Gospel according to Luke:
In those days a decree was issued by the emperor Augustus for a census to be taken throughout the Roman world. This was the first Registration of its kind; it took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone made his way to his own town to be registered. Joseph went up to Judaea from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to register in the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was of the house of David by descent; and with him went Mary, his betrothed, who was expecting her child.
The figures are then placed in the manger, and after a short period of quiet, the reading continues.
MangerWhile they were there, the time came for her to have her baby, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Then all pray:
whose mighty Son was born in Bethlehem
those days long ago,
lead us to that same poor place,
where Mary laid her tiny Child.
And as we look on in wonder and praise,
make us welcome him in all new life,
see him in the poor,
and care for his handiwork
the earth, the sky and the sea.
O God, bless us again in your great love.
We pray for this through Christ our Lord.