dung: excrement, esp of animals; manure
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:6-7 NIV)
When I was growing up in Penang, we raised chickens in our back yard. One of my duties was to collect the eggs that the chickens laid. I remember the smell of the chicken droppings. All those who live near animals know this. If you are near animals you smell their dung. Which makes me wonder what the smell was like in the room with the manger that held the new-born Jesus.
The stable that served as the delivery room for Jesus could have been a cave or the ground floor of a family house.
A small number of flock animals were housed, not in attached exterior sheds, but inside the house in one of the ground floor rooms. Here, animals, tools and agricultural produce were stored. Here, too, food was prepared and possibly consumed. Family sleeping quarters were on the second floor (an upper room). By being inside, the animals were protected from the elements and theft. (https://christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a012.html)
The room would have been warm and, if the hay was fresh, the manger would have been fairly clean, but there would still have been no escaping the smell. The Messiah comes into this world by being born in a smelly room. He comes into our mess.
It would seem that a Holy God should make His entrance in a less messy place. And that is how we feel sometimes. We feel that we should get our act together, clear up our messes before we allow Jesus space in our lives. But Jesus is saying let me come in and I will help you clear up your mess.
Jesus says in Revelation 3:20:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (NIV)
Although this verse is often used in an evangelistic context, here Jesus is talking to believers, the church in Laodicea. This was a church that had become lukewarm, a church in a mess. Jesus knocks at the door, asking to come in so that He can fellowship with them and help them get their act together.
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17–18 NIV)
We think we have to get our act together before we can fellowship with Jesus. Often we can’t. Jesus knows that. Indeed thinking we can fix our lives without God’s help is what gets us into trouble in the first place. He invites us to turn to Him so that He can help us get our act together.
Christmas is a strange time. On one hand we are told repeatedly that we ought to be rejoicing. Yet daily we see that the world is in a mess. On a personal level, some of us may be going through exceptionally tough circumstances. It is good to be reminded that the Messiah entered our mess so that He can help make things right again. Now that’s a good reason to rejoice.