Away in a Manger

Read: Romans 8:18-25, 28-30

Predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. (v. 29)

No one really knows who wrote this carol, which began appearing in American hymnals in the late 1800s. It’s sometimes attributed to Martin Luther, perhaps because Luther loved Christmas and he loved children, and he wrote a lot of good songs.

One of the problems with Christmas is that it can easily become too sentimental. Indeed, our secular culture has made a sort of mush out of the season. But this can even happen when we focus on the real Christmas story. We sing about peace, and the warmth of the stable, and the animals there with Joseph and Mary, and—“Why, the baby doesn’t even cry.” I’m pretty sure baby Jesus did cry when he woke up, cold and hungry and lying in a cattle trough, just as I’m sure that Mary felt the pains of childbirth and groaned literally, as Paul says our fallen creation does metaphorically.

But even in a sentimental carol like “Away in a Manger” we are reminded of the very unsentimental work Jesus has come to do: Bless all the dear children in your tender care, / Prepare us for heaven, to live with you there.

Jesus came to make us like himself. His redemptive project is also transformative. We will be transformed until we are conformed to his image, and the creation will be transformed until all traces of evil have been wiped away. Then we will be fit for heaven, and heaven will be fit for us.

As you pray, ask Jesus to bless you, and all the dear children in his tender care.

Listen along: Away in a Manger – Carrie Underwood, Away in a Manger – African Children’s Choir

About the Author

david bast

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.

This entry is part 15 of 25 in the series Carols and Lessons