Luke 2:11-14 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
Merry Christmas and Happy Jesus’ birthday! As I watch the individual flakes flutter down from what looks like a hazy blue sky, I realize this is Christmas #2.
This is a very different Christmas for me, make that two years in a row. Last year was my first Christmas without Archie in 28 years and this year, due to inclement weather, I did not make the 10 hour drive to meet with family on Christmas Eve. I think this is the first time I have missed since Taylor was born…but I digress.
Because I wasn’t on the road to Ohio, I went to church. Since they were not expecting me, I had no official responsibilities. I just went for crowd control, to check in the kids, hang out, wish the kids and their parents Merry Christmas and (OK, so I’ll admit) dance up a storm during praise and worship. Most everybody is so stiff, so my thought process is,”I am not here to impress anyone, so why not let the actual ‘Joy of the Lord’ come out?” I do love the praise and worship, and if you really don’t care what PEOPLE think, it’s pretty awesome to be jamming for/with your Savior. (Calm down, I wasn’t making a spectacle of myself, I just do the motions to the songs with the most effort possible).
It was a different type of day because the ginormous wall between the kindergarten-1st graders was opened up to the 2-3rd graders, so we could all hang out together. There was a stage set where the wall had been, with the stable part of the nativity, a ten foot or so decorated tree with colored lights and white ornaments to the left of the stable, and a pink “story time” chair setting on the floor, next to the tree. Jen and Natasha are much to active to use that story time chair, however.
After our praise and worship 12 Days of Christmas, they asked the kiddos what was missing from the stage. “Presents under the tree,””Mary,” “sheep,” finally someone said “The people and animals!” We were a bit concerned we were going to spend the rest of the time naming off everyone individually ;-).
The ladies then took turns going into the class rooms and bringing out one character from the nativity at a time and talked about how they must have felt during that wonderful night. How Joseph probably was overwhelmed when they came across the hill to find swarms of people, EVERYWHERE, the crowds and confusion. Then to not be able to find Mary an actual comfy bed to rest? How he might have felt about that.
One of my favorites was the shepherd. I feel like I have never heard that the shepherds were the lowest of the low in the hierarchy of society. It was awesome when the ladies explained that they were in the fields, saw the angels and then were drawn to Jesus like we are drawn to a bowl of candy (FINALLY an example I can relate to!!!).
My most favorite was the donkey. We hear how tired Mary was and Joseph, too, but that donkey probably not only carried Mary but all of their earthy baggage, as well. They we probably in a bit of a rush, because the town was filling up quickly, so again, more pushing. Do you think the donkey knew that he was carrying the Savior of the word on his back?
That example reminded me of how sometimes we, ok I, might feel the weight and pressure of doing things quickly and under pressure. Sometimes I get so focused on how life “feels” I loose sight of the reason behind all of it. I also get focused on all of my baggage, I forget about the gifts that are right here, in front of my face (or the middle of my back, if I were the donkey)!
The ladies had everyone in place, but baby Jesus. Jen went to get Him…but he wasn’t there! She felt really bad, but she did find some bottled water, because of the many times water was used in the Bible. My favorite reference was when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, in John 4,” “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jen put the water in the manger. Natasha felt badly so she went into see if they accidentally put baby Jesus on her side. She was gone for a while, but you could hear her as she was looking. She emerged carrying what looked like a baby. “Yea’s” were heard from all over the room, but then Natasha explained that she didn’t find baby Jesus either. “Awwwwwwe,” pouted the children. What Natasha was carrying was a loaf of bread. She explained that, like bread, Jesus fills us up and gives us the energy to do what is right in His sight. My favorite example of this is John 6:35″ Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Did Jen nail the bottled water, or what??!?!)
The ladies kept searching: a first aid box because Jesus binds all of our wounds and heals the broken-hearted, a cross because, even though we are celebrating His birthday, Jesus was actually sent as a sacrifice for you and me, a stone because even death and an enormous stone rolled in front of His grave could not keep Him from us. He loved us too much to let God’s love end there. The manger was getting full, but yet, no baby Jesus.
From the back of the room emerged Pastor Ben. He hated to interrupt but he had to run to his office and found baby Jesus was left in the children’s department. Being it was Christmas Eve, he thought we might need it and brought it up. Excited shouts erupted around the room! Baby Jesus was found!
As crazy as it sounds, I found tears trickling down my cheeks. Sometimes when the baggage of life (donkey) weighs heavily and I feel like Heavenly Dad has disappeared, am I looking at all the weight of the baggage and how that “feels”? Should I instead be focusing on all the things around me that Heavenly Dad places there to remind me of what He has done for me in the past, what He is doing for me right now, and what blessing lie just ahead (like the arrival of baby Jesus when the donkey’s part in journey to the nativity was completed) in the future?
Did I mention the message in the main service was about God’s perfect timing for the good or bad and how He will use it all for our benefit. Have faith? Oh, well, maybe we can cover that later. Then again…maybe not.
Whether you on beginning the journey, unsure what to expect, like Mary, in the middle of the journey, feeling weighed down, like the donkey, or standing in awe and appreciation of the undeserving gift heavenly Dad has just laid before you, like the shepherds and wise men, just remember the reason for the journey and have faith that Jesus will undoubtedly show up! Merry Christmas!
Until next time: Blessings!
One more thing: My Christmas wish: