In many homes there are small nativity scenes. There are shepherds, sheep, cattle, a donkey, Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus. They might look like dolls, and children and simple souls (Mr. Bean) feel like playing with the nativity scene.
There exists a romantic idea about rural life, the romantic thoughts about having a small ecological farm. Remember the song about Old MacDonald?
Let me tell how it really is in a stable. I grew up in the country. My dad had a few calves and some sheep. I often helped him in the stable. I made name tags to the calves, both the calves and the lambs were cute. I talked to them, but I never got attached to them, and I knew they were animals which had to be slaugthered one day.
There is often cold and dark in a stable. The hay is soft, but it is also scratchy and not clean. It is mixed with the urine and the excrements of the animals. The fodder is dry, not like oatmeal without milk, but like hard grain.
When sheep have lambs, the lambs can lie in the hay under a small heat lamp. Shortly after the birth, the lambs must stand on their feet. Sometimes the sheep cannot take care of their lambs. Sometimes lambs die.
I’m a mother and I would never give birth in a stable, only if I had to. My dad and I only went to the stable when we took care of the animals.
Mary and Joseph sought vacancy at the hostel, but the owner didn’t think there was room for a woman in labor. Mary had to seek shelter in a stable, maybe because the contractions grew in intensity. There is no couch, bed or blanket in a stable. There is not even a chair, there might be a stool. A stable is cold, moist and not totally clean. Mary and Joseph had no towels, bed or cradle. Jesus was layed in a manger together with the hay and maybe a little grain.
Jesus, Messiah, the son of God was born in a stable like an animal. Jesus was a lamb already from birth, who was destined to be slaughtered. Jesus is God’s lamb, who God sacrificed to reconcile himself with us.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth. (Is 53:7)
Mariane, thank you for painting this realistic picture for me of the stable. Yes, our Redeemer, slain from the foundation of the world. Holy, holy, holy.
Amen. Thank you for reading and your comment, Elaine. Merry Christmas!