One of my favorite childhood memories is playing with the nativity set during Advent. The wise men and their camels would start out in the far ends of the house. Each day my sister and I took turns moving them closer and closer to the stable. Eventually shepherds and wise men would arrive at to worship baby Jesus on Christmas Day.
The highlight of my week was remembering THE story of Christmas with groups of children. We played with Mary and Joseph, moved the shepherds and wise men around the room and finally placed baby Jesus in the manger. Check out our grand finale as we posed for the photo below. Can you find the angel held high over the stable?
This week children all around the world will be enacting this same story. Christmas pageants are holy chaos with dancing angels, fighting or crying shepherds, and lost wise men who can’t remember where they were supposed to stand. But when Mary and Joseph hold the baby doll Jesus and we sing “Away in the Manger”, suddenly we are all pulled into the story. God enters the holy chaos of life—not in a cute and sentimental way—but instead into a smelly barn, into a room full of rambunctious children, into the dangers of political unrest, into the uncertainty and messiness of everyday life on earth. The Christmas story draws us into THE story because God enters into our world–our struggles, fears, and joys too. Emmanuel means “God with us.”
The Bible reading this week is the story of Mary found in Luke 1:39-45. In spite of the fact Mary is an unwed teen with an uncertain future, she sings “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for the mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name.”
My prayer for all of you this Advent and Christmas is that you too find ways to enter into THE story. You are part of the story. Jesus came to earth for YOU.
*Attend your congregation’s Christmas pageant.
*Worship on Christmas eve.
*Sit quietly in front of a nativity or Christmas tree and thank God that Jesus is with you in all the joys and uncertainties of your life.