The Nativity Story
We stumbled upon the manger scene that December night.
It was a live nativity in front of a small church.
I was on the way home from a Christmas party with my two children, nine and six, who had jumped and played and eaten too much pizza, cake and candy canes. The excitement of the season had reached an almost unbearable climax as they discussed what Santa might bring this year.
While driving, I pointed out, “Oh look~ a live nativity scene.
My six-year old son exclaimed: “A donkey! Let’s go see.”
The traffic was heavy with Christmas shoppers. It would take a few maneuvers and more patience than I had after two hours in a Jumping Party Zone with 30+ children giddy on holiday snacks. But I decided, nevertheless, to add this wonderful, unanticipated reminder of the season to our agenda.
I made a U-turn and waited for traffic to clear.
Only a few cars were there when we finally turned into the parking lot of the tiny church. I guess many others’ mental “flipping of the coin” had landed the other way, and they had decided to keep driving and stick to the “to-do” list they had so close to Christmas.
We walked around the scene.
It was sweet and not elaborate, what one would expect of a small church production. There were no words, other than those from eh audience milling about, sipping hot cocoa and talking quietly. We were welcomed by a woman with smiling eyes. I commented: “We were just driving by and had to stop.”
“That’s the point,” the woman said, kindly. “We’re glad you did. The kids can feed the goats and donkey if they’d like.”
“If they’d like?” I thought. Are you kidding me? The feeding of livestock was the point of our stopping. They were not able to see Jesus from the street, after all.
The kids moseyed toward the goats first and petted them, but the donkey was the main attraction. They measured food into their hands and offered it to the animals. The donkey didn’t seem very interested, but he did try to take a nibble at my son’s elbow. We all giggled.
After the donkey incident, I watched my daughter, Shelby, as she walked toward the manger scene. It had taken awhile for her to turn her full attention to it as the animals had kept her busy. But now I could see in her face the slow recognition of the scene in front of her. She walked sideways, tentatively and slowly, gazing at the stable scene, lit by a bright spotlight. The cast included Mary, Joseph, and several toddlers dressed as angels, complete with golden garland looping their small heads.
It was then that I witnessed the most striking image, now burned into my memory forever. My nine-year-old daughter walked in front of the spotlight. The light meant for Jesus. With clarity on her face, she realized that she had wandering into the light that was meant for Him, and she humbly walked back to the side, joining the audience of witnesses.
I was tearful nearly the whole way home.
In between admonishing the kids not to touch each other with their livestock-contaminated hands, I played the moment of Shelby’s wandering over and over in my mind.
The moments we had just shared were a perfect metaphor for the season.
The busy traffic and parties had nearly kept us away from the story of Jesus. I had come inches from not stopping.
I thought of my children kneeling at the side of that pen, their intensity focused on insuring that the animals were full and happy. And I remembered, most of all, the light cast on the baby Jesus, illuminating him and my children’s images.
This Christmas I pray for a child’s humble eyes to see the meaning I witnessed. I pray that, not just at Christmas, but all the days of this life, I am able to follow the light of what’s truly important. To follow the to-do list placed before me by the Holy Spirit and not placed on me by the distractions of the world.
As I drove home that dark evening, I recounted what I had said: “We were just driving by and had to stop.”
And then the prophetic response, spoken straight from God, I now believe:
“That’s the point. To notice the light and stop.”
Amy is a writer, blogger, and blue jean girl from Augusta, GA. God calls her wandering, inspired soul be•lov•ed, 2 beautiful souls call her mom, and a grace-filled man calls her wife. She writes at www.belovedinbluejeans.com: Viewing life through the mirror of HIM.
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