Away in a manger: ‘miracle’ in New York

This week, we read the amazing story of a real newborn baby found in a manger, just like Jesus. What role does the Christmas story still play?

What’s happening

At the Holy Child Jesus Church in Queens, Jose Moran – who looks after the church – finished setting up the nativity scene on the main stage. Then he left for lunch. When he came back, he couldn’t believe his eyes: there, wrapped up in towels and lying in the manger, was a newborn baby boy.

Find out more

A law in New York City says that any baby less than 30 days old can be left in a safe place, such as a police station or a hospital, as long as someone is told about it. Although the mother did not follow the rules exactly – she didn’t tell anyone – she returned the next day to check that the child had been found. The police believed that she had meant well, and decided not to blame her.

This unusual event reminded people of the nativity story, which still means a lot to many. The story is full of interesting characters – such as the Three Wise Men, who follow a star all the way to Jesus’s birthplace – and themes that are still important today – such as the difficulties faced by poor people. It is a popular subject for school performances at Christmas.

Some say…

… the Nativity’s message about love, hope and hospitality in difficult times makes it important, whether or not things happened exactly in the way that the story goes. Stories do not have to be true in order to mean something – in fact, they are often not. Think for instance how popular is the Christmas story of Scrooge by Charles Dickens.

Others think…

… the stories that really matter are the ones that are happening now. The world can be a cruel place. But a mother in trouble, a church and the New York police all coming together to take care of a newborn baby is far more inspiring than anything that happened 2,000 years ago.

You Decide

  1. What does the nativity story mean to you?

Activities

  1. Write a short story about a newborn baby found in a church.

Some People Say...

“It is wrong to abandon a baby.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Queens
The largest of New York's five main areas. Around 2.3 million people live there.
Nativity scene
A model of the scene of Jesus's birth, around 2,000 years ago in a stable (a building for animals).
Manger
An animal food trough, used as a cradle for Jesus.
Hospitality
Welcoming strangers into your home.
Charles Dickens
A famous Victorian writer. He wrote A Christmas Carol, (1843), which tells the story of a bad-tempered old miser who learns kindness one Christmas Day.

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