Preparing our Hearts: Kindness Manger
Advent is all about waiting. And preparing. But that can be hard when things flash and dazzle and scream for attention. But even amidst the chaos and consumerism, this momma is going to try to prepare her heart and those of her children for the coming of Jesus to earth. And I invite you to do it with me, through a kindness manger.
I heard of this idea earlier this week while I was chatting on the phone with my BFF. She told me the basic concept, and I liked it so much, I just had to do it. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t start on the first day of advent. It’s close enough. 🙂
What You’ll Need
a manger (I made mine out of scrap wood left over from an Ikea shelf that we chopped. And honestly, I had to make it twice because my youngest boy, El Destructor, broke it within ten minutes of me setting it out. So what you see in the pictures is manger 2.0. It would have been way easier to just use a cardboard box or something without legs. Don’t make it too hard on yourself. That’s not the point. Learn from me and either buy a manger, or grab an appropriately sized cardboard box from the recycling.)
strips of cloth (I cut up an old sheet)
a baby doll
How It Works
I started with an empty manger.
After a quick reminder of the Christmas story, I placed the baby in there and asked my kids if they thought that was a very comfortable bed.
They very quickly said “no”. Then I brought out the strips of cloth. I told them that they could make the bed more comfortable for Jesus with these strips. But the catch was this: In order to put a strip of cloth in, they had to do kindnesses for other people. I gave the example of sharing a book with one another. They got really excited and tried to do a “fake” kindness right away. I explained to them, it had to be real, not staged. And that I would tell them when they could put a strip in.
This manger actually fits in really well with our Bible story that we have been focusing on this week, Matthew 25:34-40. The basic gist is Jesus said to the people entering heaven that they gave Him food when He was hungry, and water when He was thirsty, and clothes when He needed them. But the people asked when they had done those things. And Jesus said that when you do it for the least of these, you are doing it for Him. So when we take care of each other by being kind, we are taking care of Jesus. And with this kindness manger, it makes it literal for my little learners. I love how God orchestrates all that because I made this plan to read this story in September, and now, here in December, it goes perfectly with this idea I heard about this past week. God is a masterful artist, indeed.
On Christmas Day, the kids will be able to lay baby Jesus in the comfortable bed they made for Him.
Let’s hope it is stuffed to overflowing!
How It’s Going
So far, so good. I have caught them a few times being kind to one another and rewarded them with the strip. It has been good for them to have something to strive for. And it has been good for me to be looking for the good they do because all too often I can focus only on the negatives. Now we don’t always act kind, but I am encouraged that I will have a visual reminder of many of the times we were kind. That is a win, in and of itself. And I hope that by having a goal for kindness, we can remember that Christmas is not just about presents and candy but about caring for the people God has blessed us with so that on the day Jesus comes back again, we can stand with confidence knowing that we showed our love for Him through our service to His people.
You could most certainly miniaturize this, either keeping the cloth strips or using paper.
If you really want to go the extra mile, you can write down on the strip the kindness that was done. That seemed like too much work to me (and a hurdle for doing it that I didn’t need), but it would be fun to be able to remember what was done. But ultimately, we need to remember that it’s not about what we do, it’s about showing our love for Jesus, whatever form it took.
I really look forward to how this will progress over this month. Be sure to follow us on Instagram where I’ll update you periodically with pictures of our growing bed for baby Jesus. Use #kindnessmanger if you do one of your own. I’d love to check it out!