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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: The Best Meal of All
By Emily Gibson


The first catalog with holiday theme items arrived in our mailbox in late July. The "BEST CHRISTMAS ISSUE EVER!" magazines with pages of perfect decorations and most scrumptious Christmas recipes hit the racks in September. All too soon, the stores will put out the Santa decorations and ingredients for fruit cake. If previous years are any indication, we will be inundated with commercial "Christmas" for months and once it arrives, after considerable fanfare and folderol, we’ll be beat to a "best ever holiday" pulp.

All of this has little to do with the original gift given that first Christmas night, lying small and helpless in a barn feed trough. I know a fair amount about feed troughs, having daily encounters with them in our barn, and there is no fanfare there and no grandiosity. The basic sustenance found in a manger bears little resemblance to Martha Stewart-like table settings, and picture-perfect roasted turkey. Instead every day needs are fulfilled there in the most simple and plain way. Our wooden troughs are so old, they have been filled with fodder thousands of times over the decades. The wood has been worn smooth and shiny from years of being sanded by horses’ and cows' rough tongues as they lick up every last morsel, extracting every bit of flavor and nourishment from what has been offered there. No matter how tired, how hungry, there is always comfort offered at those troughs. The barn animals know it, anticipate it, depend on it, and thrive because of it.

The shepherds in the hills that night were starving too. They had so little, yet became the first invited to the feast at the trough. They must have been overwhelmed, having never known such plenty before. Overcome with the immensity of what lay before them, they certainly could not contain themselves, and told everyone they could about what they had seen.

We're told His mother listened to the excitement of the visiting shepherds and that she "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart". Whenever I'm caught up in the frenetic commercialism of modern Christmas and overdo in my pursuit of the perfect meal or trying out ten new cookie varieties, I go out to the barn. I look at our rough-hewn feed troughs and think about what courage it took to entrust an infant to such a bed. She knew in her heart, indeed she had been told, that her son was to feed the hungry souls of human kind and would eventually become fodder himself, "the Bread of Life."

We too are at the trough, sometimes stamping in our impatience, often anxious and weary, at times hopeless and helpless, but always hungry despite the season's fill of treats. Jesus was placed there for good reason: a treasure to be shared for all time, a meal without end.

Who needs Christmas cookies, pumpkin pies and fruit cake?

Just kneel, ready to be fed, at the manger.

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This article has been read 536 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvette Roelofse10/24/08
What an original and inspired take on the topic! It certainly made me think.
Joshua Janoski10/28/08
This was very insightful. It reminded me of Max Lucado's style of writing, and he is one of my favorite Christian authors, so naturally I enjoyed reading this as well. :)

I am sick of the commercialization that distracts us from what Christmas is really all about. It's time that we go back to the manger and kneel before Him.

This was a blessing. Thank you for sharing it.
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/28/08
Your message was presented simply and beautifully, one to really think about.
Karlene Jacobsen10/28/08
Honestly? I am not one who really gets into the hullabaloo of the holidays. I love the celebration of Jesus though.
This was really good, provoking thought and self-examination.