Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Mortimer's Christmas Manger" and Welcoming the King

I read an article the other day that talked about all the different reactions to the arrival of the Messiah. King Herod was threatened, the masses in Jerusalem were troubles, the chief priests and scribes were apathetic. But the travelers, the Magi, were the true worshipers.

When I read this, I immediately thought of a simple little Christmas book I’d read at the beginning of the season. I wanted to write about it, but wasn’t sure how. The book is Mortimer’s Christmas Manger, by Karma Wilson. Wilson heralds from The Bear Snores On fame, and has created a mini monopoly on amazing storytime books featuring Bear. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to learn she is a believer and has written a few children’s devotional books as well.

The story goes like this: a little mouse named Mortimer is tired of living in his dark hole. “It’s too cold, too cramped, too creepy,” he squeaks. So he ventures out and find a nativity set that looks just the right size for his new home. Only there are all these statues in the way. So he tugs and pulls them outside the stable.

When he comes to the baby in a manger, Mortimer is thrilled. A bed, just his size. “There’s no room for you here,” he says. “Out you go.”

Each morning Mortimer goes in search of good things to eat. When he returns, to his dismay, he finds the statues back in his little house. So he tugs them out again, and again.

Then one morning, he overhears the family reading a story. He heard about Mary, and Joseph, a bright star, shepherds, and three wise kings.

Then Mortimer heard about a baby. A baby who was born in a stable and had no real bed but slept in a wooden manger. A baby born to save the world!

“And His name shall be called Jesus,” said the man.
Mortimer looked up. He saw the star atop the Christmas tree, and the statues near the stable. And then he saw the baby.

“I see . . .” he sighed. “You aren’t just any statue. You are a statue of Jesus.”

Mortimer was sad. He didn’t want to lose his new home. But he knew what he had to do. He tugged the statues back into the stable. And then he placed the baby back in the manger.
“There was no room for you in the inn. But I know where there is room,” he said.

After that Mortimer wandered back towards his dark hole. But as he went he prayed a prayer: “Jesus, you were born to save the world. Perhaps you could also bring me a home?”

That’s when he saw another small building. Just his size! A gingerbread house.

“Thank you, Jesus,” said Mortimer. “You’ve made room for me too.”

The story is a little cheesy, but oh so true. We can easily respond to Jesus like Herod, the masses in Jerusalem, or even the chief priests and scribes. But we have a choice. Let us respond with open hearts and minds, with awe and worship, at the arrival of the newborn King. After all, we know how the Story ends. As Mortimer reminds us, He came to save the world. He came to save us.

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