I figured it out when I went to the local grocery to buy a loaf of bread for the five o'clock Christmas Eve worship service. The afternoon service is for families with young children. We've been working with the youngest in our church, slowly telling the Christmas story throughout Advent. Tonight we move Mary and Joseph to the manger and of course the baby Jesus. We discovered last Sunday that the donkey was already resting in the stable!
Tonight at all three services we will have communion. As I stood in the bakery (I should have gone earlier....on second thought perhaps not!) it became apparent that all the big uncut loaves of bread were not to be found. So I took 12 smaller loaves. Standing in the check out line it hit me. The children need to discover the big manger underneath the Nativity stained glass window. The manger will be filled with bread. As we move Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus tot he stable we will also move the manger filled with bread.
The journey will take us near the communion table. The story is this. We don't have a real stable to go to tonight. There is no manger. The baby Jesus was, is and will be. We do have a communion table. We do have the promise that Jesus is present with us each time we gather around the table. As we take the bread and the cup and share it with one another Christ is present with us through the moving of the Holy Spirit.
Tonight our manger will be full. Not with a fake baby....but with real bread....bread giving life!
Tonight is Christmas Eve.