All my life when I pictured the birth of Jesus, I imagined it happened in a wooden stable and that the manger was made of wood and filled with hay. I suppose that it’s no wonder that those images filled my head as I was just reflecting the drawings and paintings that I’d seen. I’ve come to learn that those were most likely false impressions devised by an American mind.
When I was in Israel in August, we learned from one of our hosts that mangers were more often than not made from stone, not wood. And it is quite likely that rather than a stable made of wood, it was a cave where the animals were kept.
At the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, beneath the floor of the church are the remains of a cave. It doesn’t look much like a cave now, of course, as it was been all dressed up in order to celebrate the great event that they believe took place on that very spot. The location where the birth took place is in a small area (reminiscent of a fireplace in some ways!) and about 10 feet behind it is where the manger is supposed to have been found. The location of the manger is in today’s photo, and as you can see, it has been enclosed with marble more befitting the King who was placed there.
Luke 2:6-7 (NLT) And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas!!!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In a highly unusual chain of events, a volcanic eruption in New Zealand caused a flood that swept away a train filled with passengers on this day in 1953. More than 150 people lost their lives in this improbable disaster.
At the top of a 9,000-foot volcano, Mount Ruapehu, on New Zealand’s North Island was a lake and a glacier. On December 24, a minor eruption of the volcano released the lake waters down a glacial valley and gorge. The surging water thundered down the mountain toward the town of Waiouri. Before it reached the community, it slammed into a bridge just before a train crossed it.
The Wellington to Auckland express train had nine cars filled with people traveling on Christmas Eve. Many were on their way to see Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who was making a rare visit to New Zealand. The charging lake water slammed into the Tangiwai Railroad Bridge and weakened it so much that when the train came to the bridge, it gave way, sending six cars of the train plunging into the flood water. They sank almost immediately. Out of the 285 passengers on board, 151 died, and many of the bodies were never recovered.
Some of the train cars were later found many miles downstream from the bridge. It is estimated that millions of gallons of water had been released from the lake due to the eruption. However, other than that done to the railroad bridge, there was no other damage. The water simply flowed into the Whangaehu River and out to sea.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Beans have historically been a symbol of the embryo and of growth in most societies. The ancient Egyptians called the place in which the Ka, the souls of the dead awaited reincarnation “the bean field.”