My father had a good friend who was always in charge of building something for his church, the local hospital, or his own buildings. He hired the best architects and engineers. When the plans were complete and construction was about to commence, like clockwork he would call my dad, take him to the local cafeteria, buy lunch, spread out the plans, and ask my Dad what he thought. He did this because inevitably my Dad would catch a major flaw. He noticed that the architects had placed the morgue of a hospital next to the VIP Dining Hall and kitchen, for example. Sometimes, I got to go on these outings, and I remember the time when my dad’s friend brought out the plans for a brand new church to be constructed on the West End of town. Dad’s friend spread out the plans with obvious pride of what his high priced architects and engineers had designed. My Dad carefully went over each page making notes of minor changes on practically every page until the came to the end. He looked at his friend and said, “You’re missing a set of plans.” Dad’s friend was defensive. “No, this is a complete set.” My dad scratched his head and said, “There’s no basement, Brick. It’s in a church’s basement that miracles occur.”
My Dad was serious, but his friend didn’t understand and the church was built without one. I don’t know if your church has a basement or not, but I bet somewhere outside of the majesty of stained glass, wonderful organs, and comfortable, or not so comfortable, pews is where your church’s miracles occur. It is where AA meetings are held, where coffee is served in Styrofoam cups, where boy and girl scouts meet, where the homeless sleep, where choirs practice, and the rowdiest of kids attend Sunday school. That was my Dad’s point, and the point of the Advent Manger. It is not in Palaces or Giant Halls where we are called to serve our fellow man and women. It’s in the basements.