4: Crook

My fourth toys is a shepherd’s crook.

The shepherds who visited baby Jesus must have had a crook with them — a long and sturdy staff with a hook at one end that comes in handy to manage their sheep as they forage. They use it to catch and pull back a wandering sheep, it becomes a weapon to defend against predators, it helps to balance when walking rough terrain and used to part tall undergrowth when looking for lost sheep.

“ — your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” Psalm 23:4

It’s no coincidence that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was visited by shepherds as a baby. That should say something to you — because of who He is, He is able to direct the course of life, catch you when you are wandering off into danger and defend you against predators. And He can wade through the entanglement of disobedience to find you.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and all his sheep are within his reach.

But the big question is,

Are you a sheep?

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“I am the good shepherd… and I lay down my life for the sheep.” — Jesus

Tomorrow’s toy is: Gift

3: Manger

Man·ger /ˈmānjər/
a long open box or trough for horses or cattle to eat from.

Unfamiliar voices, the bleating of sheep, the braying of donkeys — these sounds quickly let us know that the stable is no place for a baby to be born. Yet, you can almost palpate the air of love and warmth and joy.

Have you recently had an unwelcome or unpleasant change in circumstances or fortune?

Do not be afraid, for you have a champion — Jesus — who was born in a manger. It was no cot, but the baby Jesus felt comfy in the manger surrounded by the love of his parents on that wintry night.

If you look closely,

you will find comfort even when you feel out of place. In a friendly face, a soft-spoken word, the sound of gentle whispers, a light pat on your back, the unnoticed glimpses of Jesus’ glowing face will bring hope and comfort and calmness to the raging storms in your life.

And Jesus does not discriminate. He comes to whoever invites Him. If that’s your heart, He will come.

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In the vicissitudes of life, you can find divine providence.

Jesus is patting your back right now, saying — I am here. For you.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:77

Tomorrow’s toy is: Crook

2: Music box

Do you wonder why there’s carols and so much singing associated with Christmas? Around this time, and for pretty much the rest of the year, you will hear many wonderful Christmas songs playing in stores, homes, gatherings, on TV or from any of the forms of music boxes (phones, computers, home audio systems). I believe the many songs we love to sing and hear reflect the spirit of the song which characterizes Christmas and that is why my second toy is a gramophone (P.S. I also wanted to draw something vintage, ha ha).

Chances are if I take a poll in a room, I’ll find that the majority of people like music. Experiences of awe and joyful surprise interrupting the mundane often lead to singing. Many of the characters of the Christmas story — the angels, shepherds, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, and Anna showed us this.

The angels sang, announcing the majesty of God. The shepherds sang — in utter amazement of their divine visitation. Zechariah sang — when he received the fulfillment of a promise in his old age. Mary and Elizabeth sang — having found favor and been chosen to birth greatness. Simeon and Anna sang — acknowledging the privilege to witness to the coming of the Savior.

They sang because they were so enraptured by the visitation of the divine in their mundane lives.

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“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

Do you consider your life mundane?
At the verge of despair?
Is the Christmas miracle lost on you?

Now, rejoice, the promise is fulfilled. Your king is here. Jesus is born. And this means —

You will sing a new song.

Tomorrow’s toy is: Manger