What if the manger had been empty, and no angel in the sky
Had stopped to tell the shepherds that they really should pass by
A dark and humble stable where God’s glory shone around
And the Father’s precious only Son – a baby – could be found?
Then there’d be no heaven waiting, and no Savior’s arms held wide
To welcome His invited guests to come and step inside.
There’d be no heavenly Bridegroom, no glorious wedding feast,
No church, no heavenly family, from the greatest to the least.
If Joseph had been obstinate or Mary had said, “No”
If the wise men hated traveling and didn’t want to go,
If the shepherds there in Bethlehem kept quiet about it all
Would there be a Christmas story of a humble cattle stall?
If He who reigned in heaven, the King enthroned on high
Had been too busy making worlds to leave and come to die,
Or if all our pain and helplessness, our shame and our disgrace
Had triggered only justice, and no amazing grace.
There would be no friend like Jesus to calm us in the strife,
No saving free forgiveness – no second chance at life,
No gentle Holy Spirit to change us from within,
No overcoming power, no victory over sin.
So come with me on tiptoe and we’ll take you to the place
Where Jesus, baby Jesus lies, with tears upon his face,
Assuring us of gospel truth that in this tiny form
Within the hay – on Christmas Day – Redemptive Love was born!
Poem by Jill Briscoe