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Even before Thanksgiving, many people were already preparing for Christmas. Christmas lights and decorations are up all over town. Soon, Christmas tree sales will be in full swing. And to be sure, many of us will soon find ourselves decorating, putting up the Christmas tree, the nativity scene, lights, cards and the like. Ready or not, the Christmas season is upon us.

For some people, this time of year can bring a sense of comfort and peace. For others, this time of year can bring unwanted stress and worry. And yet, for others, this time of year can bring a sense of loneliness and hopelessness which can lead them into despair and depression. Many people will find themselves searching for meaning and fulfillment in their lives this season. And oftentimes this search ends in things which leave people emptier and no better off than they were before. The famous line “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places” might unfortunately be appropriately said of some this holiday season.

Indeed, many people are looking in all the wrong places for meaning and fulfillment. And yet, the very place to look will be seen or glimpsed at by all eyes this holiday season. It is that simple nativity scene on our lawns, in our homes and on our Christmas cards. The right place and the only place to look this time of year and anytime of the year is inside the manger. For inside the manger is the very place where true meaning and fulfillment are found. It is the very place where the true God demonstrates His love for all of mankind. The very God who is from all eternity, who created all things, who sustains all things, became flesh and was born of a virgin for us. The almighty God, King of the universe, made Himself completely vulnerable for you, lying in that manger so that one day He could take your sins from you forever and give you His life that never ends.

Martin Luther once said that if you want to find God, you must look to the manger. If we ever wonder where God is in a world of sin and evil, if we ever wonder what God thinks of us, all we need to do is look toward the manger and embrace the child born of the virgin. Many of us will be busy preparing, busy shopping and buying, busy searching for just the right gift. In the midst of the business of this season, let us not forget to look and gaze our eyes in the right place, the manger. Thanks be to God that we do not need to search in all the wrong places to find meaning and purpose in our lives.

God’s richest blessing to you and your family as we celebrate and rejoice this Advent and Christmas season that our God came down to us in the infant Jesus, dwells with us now and will come again in glory!

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.