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An Intentional Bed


An Intentional Bed

Andrea Burke

{I posted this last year at Grace Table, but I'm reposting it here this year because...Christmas.}

Sunday night was the night for Christmas cookies. Gingerbread rolled out and royal icing whipped, dark and white chocolate chips poured and butter creamed with sugar in the most beautiful sort of way. All of these concoctions resulted in our table being a floury mess and my clothes covered with whatever I happened to brush up against as we worked. We danced around each other in the kitchen, and I made more than one correction to which my husband finally laughed, “Are you sure you want us involved in this process?” 

Yes, I insisted, despite my inner tension. The kitchen was a splattering mess, the table a cacophony of ingredients, and corrections to the eager child who was up past her bedtime. “Please don’t shake the table and splatter candlewax on top of the dough.” 

It was a mess. A happy Christmas mess. 

An hour or so later, after we had smeared the gingerbread men, our hands and clothes with multi-colored icing, we curled up on the couch for our weekly Advent reading. He reads something about the manger. 

“It probably smelled where Jesus was born,” he says to her as she squirms between us. “Remember what the cow poop smelled like the other day?” 

Her face twists into disgust. “GROSS. He was born in cow poop?”

“No, in a manger. Do you know what a manger is?”

“Noooo,” she says, looking off at some twinkling Christmas light, her sugar high wearing off only slightly. 

“It’s what the animals would eat their dinner out of. Hay and different food. That’s where he was! Not in some luxurious bed — but in a place where the animals ate.”

“GUH-ROSS,” she is further disgusted. The story of Jesus’ arrival really isn’t that pretty at all. 

And we keep talking about how Jesus came into our mess of a world, right in the fermenting stink. The holiest of Holy, the creator of all, screaming earth air and breathing in stench. Welcome to Earth, Jesus. It’s a mess here. 

But I can’t get it out of my head — that he slept in a place where the animals ate. His first bed was a place of consumption; a place where food was broken and devoured for something else to be sustained. 

Do you think any detail goes unnoticed by Him? Do you think any detail is accidental or coincidental? Especially around His birth, I can’t help but feel every detail mattered. I think about the tiny 10 week old baby inside of me. How already I’m thinking about the nursery. The crib. The details. Googling bedding options and Moses baskets, trendy wall hangings and swaddling blankets.  So as obsessed as I am with the details, I can only imagine the birth of Jesus is full of them. I don’t want to miss any of them.

And this one? Well, I’ve never really given it a thought. Not really ever considered that the Savior of the world, the one who we would die as the lamb, the one who would say, “Eat this in remembrance of me” would come in a place where creation was already looking to consume. That the King of all Kings would spend his first nights sleeping in a place where teeth used to chomp and grind at the thing which could sustain them. That the link between “Those who hunger and thirst” might not be that far from those first few sleepless nights. 

When I’m serving meals this holiday season, I want to keep this in mind. I want to see my King in the humble places. I want to remember that no detail is lost on Him. I want to look at my life and find ways to intentionally place myself as a cry in the darkness to say — “I know what I’m getting into. I know this world is darkness. I know that the world is looking to consume me. But I also know that He became the lamb so that I wouldn’t be devoured. Let’s do this.” 

Maybe it’s a little far-fetched. Maybe I’ve had too many gingerbread cookies.

Or maybe it’s just another reminder that he came ready, born as a servant, his body to be broken for us to be consumed for our salvation. Maybe it matters after all.