Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, The little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head
The dictionary defines a manger as an open box in which food for farm animals is placed. When we think of the nativity, we often think of a barn, a cave, or a stable for animals. Perhaps we think of the really elaborate decorations with camels, sheep, shepherds and the Holy family kneeling to adore the baby Jesus.
It’s important to remember that Jesus was placed in a manger – a food trough. Now, that’s food for thought. At the last supper, he offered the bread and wine as his body and blood for our spiritual food. He entered his human life the same way he exited it – feeding our souls.
The manger, or trough, is another significant comparison. C. S. Lewis once wrote that life is comprised of highs and lows, or peaks and troughs. Similarly, in physics, a trough is a low point in a graph. Jesus came to us in a trough in the nativity but he waits for us in every low point, every trough, in life. Why do we forget that in our times of fear?
Many people struggle with depression and even more get depressed during the holiday season. Think of the imagery of the nativity. Jesus came to Earth from on high and placed himself in a food trough, a very low position to be sure, to live a life with us. If you take the word trough with both meanings, you can find comfort in knowing that he also came to be with us in our lowest points. We are not alone. To me, that is the message of Christmas.