Summary: Jesus was born in a stable, but there’s more to a stable than what we see in our Nativity sets.
A Journey Through the Stable part 1
Happy New Year! You might think I’m rushing it a little but, to Christians
everywhere, Advent is the beginning of the new year according to the church
calendar. So, Happy New Year!
Students of all ages look forward to the Christmas break. Children look forward
with excitement to the Christmas presents they hope to get. Families look forward to
family gatherings. But Advent means more than just looking forward to our
Christmas breaks and celebrations. Advent is a season of deep spiritual longing and
Are you hungry this morning? You might say, "Yeah. I got up late and had to skip
breakfast to get to church on time."
You might say, "No, I’m not hungry. I had a good breakfast. Besides, I’ve been
feasting on all that leftover turkey, so I am not hungry at all."
Now let’s think about that question in a spiritual sense. "Are you spiritually
hungry?" Are you ready for Jesus to break forth into your life and into the world?
Are you hungry for Christmas? Are you hungry for the Christ of Christmas?
The four Sundays before Christmas is the season known as “Advent”. Advent is
Latin meaning “an arrival”. Advent gives us four weeks to ponder where we are in
God’s creation of things. But we get so focused on the coming “event”, and all the
preparations that go with it, we often lose sight of the things going on around us
during these 4 weeks. What we’re going to do these next 4 Sundays is look at some
of those things. We’re going to take a journey through the stable.
We all know that Mary, Joseph, and some animals are in this stable. We see those
things every year. But there are other things there every year as well and, as we
prepare for the arrival of Jesus, I want us to notice those other things.
Have you ever walked into a room and noticed that it smelled clean? Not just looked
clean but smelled clean? As we walk through the door of the stable, maybe the first
thing we notice as we look around is not so much something we see as something
we smell. A lot of you know what I’m talking about. Fresh straw has that kind of
clean smell. Somebody probably spread some straw around to help make the stable
clean, maybe they knew a baby was going to be born there.
In Jesus’ time, straw consisted of wheat or barley stalks cut to 1 1/2-2 inch lengths
in the process of threshing. It had other uses, too. It was also used for food, mixed
with grains, and used as a binder in brickmaking.
But in this case it was used in cleaning and preparation, like when company is
coming. During Advent we’re supposed to be getting ready. The straw says, “get
Maybe you notice the big timbers that hold up the walls and ceiling. They help you
feel that it’s safe in here. Wood was used for many things besides shelter in those
days. Fuel, boats, utensils, idols, musical instruments, yokes, burnt offerings.
There were many different types of wood, as well. Gopher wood, Acacia, Cedar,
Pine, & Olivewood. The beams in our stable were most likely made of Cedar or
Someday Jesus would be nailed to wooden timbers like these, formed into a cross.
The reason?: to provide protection, to take our sins away and cover us with his
strong love, like a roof over our heads so we can feel safe. The wood in our stable
says, “Here you are safe.”
Do you notice the stones? Stones come in many sizes. Palestine is a stony country
and stones were a very common feature and, like wood, had many different uses.
The most important use of stone was for building. Big stones to build things like
walls to keep out what you don’t want in. Stones had military uses, a convenient
missile for the hand. Remember a shepherd named David who used a small stone in
a sling to defeat a giant.
And one day, a huge stone would be rolled away from in front of Jesus’ tomb to let
us know that the worst enemy had been defeated. All of these stones tell us, “God
will take care of you.”
Dirt? Yeah, dirt. Look around the stable and there’s bound to be dirt. There’s dirt
everywhere. Dirt is basic. The Bible tells us that God created man from the dust of
the earth. God breathed into dirt and gave us life. Now in Advent we are looking
forward to the time Jesus came from heaven to where we are, to be one of us, to
breathe life into us all over again. The dirt says, “Jesus meets us right where we