“This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
The angels inform the shepherds that they are to look for a sign that this birth has taken place. Traveling to Bethlehem, what were they to look for? The angelic message is that the sign will be a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. Indeed, a newborn infant lying in a feeding trough would be a sign of all time.
The late Henri Nouwen, in his book’s preface, Discernment: Reading the Signs of Daily Life, states, “God is always speaking to us – individually and as the people of God – at different times and many ways: through dreams and visions, prophets and messengers, scripture and tradition, experience and reason, nature and events.” Discernment is the spiritual practice of trying to understand what these signs mean.
Through prayer, we seek to come to an understanding of how the signs in our lives speak to us. What message are we to learn from them? These signs are gifts of God’s grace to help show us the way. They are like lights in the darkness which give us glimpses of God’s will for our lives. These lights help us find our way when we are uncertain of the path before us. They are signs which reveal God’s word to us when we are searching. Psalm 119: 105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The baby in a manger would be a light to the feet of a dark world. Shepherds, magi, tax collectors, prostitutes, the lame, the poor, the blind, the helpless, the hurting, the broken would all see the sign. This sign would make all the difference for them. It makes all the difference for us as well.
Prayer: Help me to see the signs you place in my life and the light of your presence they display.