“I said, ‘O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.’” (Psalm 41:4)
This time of year is a reflective time. Christmas reminds us of pleasant childhood memories, and we grow nostalgic. The impending new year reminds us that we’ve traveled around the sun one more time and that getting old cannot be prevented.
As the year comes to a close, it’s a great time for spiritual reflection as well … if we can slow down long enough!
King David’s statement above was a confession. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The manger, where the Son of God came in the flesh, is the right place for confession.”
Typically, the altar is the place of confession. It is the altar where we approach the Holy God, admit our shortcomings, and make a sacrifice. So, how is the manger a place of confession?
The manger is a place of companionship. It is the place where Jesus assumed flesh and blood. It is the place of that great miracle, the incarnation.
As humans, our sins plague us—they hurt us. For each of us, this has been a year in which we’ve exhibited faithlessness and unfaithfulness. It has been a year of selfishness and idolatry.
Jesus knows our hearts, for He has shared our flesh. He knows our sins, because they’ve been committed against Him. And though He has shared our flesh, He hasn’t shared our sin.
And because of that, we can approach the “altar” of the manger.
John was describing the importance of Jesus’ incarnation when he wrote, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life … and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:1, 5, 7)
Won’t you join me at the manger of Christ? Like David, we can confess our sins. We can ask for mercy and healing. At that manger, where the Word became flesh, we can let Him share His humility, innocence, and forgiveness with us.
I pray that your Christmas season is filled with mercy and healing.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.