For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths,
lying in a manger.
Luke 2:11-112 NKJV
Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus! I linger in front of our nativity scene. The creche illustrates what transpired the day Jesus was born. I ponder what it might have been like to be present at this extraordinary event. I wonder if the animals sensed something sacred happening in their secular stable.
Jesus is, and always will be, first and foremost! However, I have enjoyed meditating upon the various animals during Advent. A donkey, a few tranquil sheep, the approaching camels, now a cow. Such a privilege for the animals to be included in welcoming Jesus.
Cows will be our final focus. Cattle are often a part of the nativity scene although they are never mentioned in the Christmas story. I think about cattle because of the Christmas carol Away in the Manger. The second verse begins, “The cattle are lowing the baby awakes, But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.”
Lowing is defined as a deep low sound characteristic of cows. Maybe their mooing was a soothing sound to the newborn baby in the manger.
Cattle are ruminating animals – meaning they chew their cud. For cows, “to chew the cud” means to turn food over and over in the stomach in order to digest the food. For humans, “to chew the cud” refers to turning thoughts over and over in our minds.
For cows, chewing the cud breaks down the complex properties of grass and grains. For us, chewing the cud breaks down the complex meanings of scripture to gain understanding. Chewing the cud allows us to fill our minds with spiritual truth in order to better understand it, apply it, and be transformed by it. Cows munch on pastureland. We taste and see that the Lord is good. (see Psalm 34:8)
Cattle ruminate – chew over again. We meditate – contemplate, question, reflect, think.
The Psalms provide us good guidelines for meditating. Psalm 77:12 proclaims, “I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.” David declares in Psalm 145:5, “I will meditate on Your wonderful works.” He also says in Psalm 19:14, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Let us echo Psalm 104:34, “May my meditation be pleasing to Him, as I rejoice in the LORD.”
Paul gives us specific things to think about that will result in positive meditation. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Ponder is another word for meditate. According to Luke 2:19, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” So many things for Mary to think about! Let us take time to ponder the significance of Jesus being born among animals in a stable. Maybe we should chew the cud a little more. Let us learn from the animals how to welcome Him into our hearts.
Celebrate the birth of Jesus today! Meditate upon the meaning of Christmas.