Reflecting on the Nativity….

Nativity 2013The afternoon ground is still coated with frost while the air is mild and the sky is clear. The brilliant sunshine takes me back to the first Christmas my husband and I spent together as a married couple, living in Los Angeles. We received a nativity set from my sister Lana, a fitting gift for our new life together. So I was drawn to this photo of that same nativity set, almost twenty five years later. I can’t tell you how many moves we made since then. The nativity set has traveled with us, and hasn’t always fared well with the moves. If you look closely, you’ll see the shepherd has lost one foot, and must lean against the stable to stand upright. The thatched roof is worse for wear, certainly not offering much shelter from the elements. We found part of the missing lamb, just the head, now relegated to peeping out from amongst the hay in the stall. This year the elephant my daughter crafted in art class has joined the manger scene. Sometimes I’ll notice a shiny new nativity set when we are shopping, but this one suits us just fine. I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded it’s okay for things to be less than perfect. It’s time to en joy one another instead of rushing around for one last gift, making yet another dessert, or fussing over a missed Christmas card or decoration. After all, that first Christmas was far from perfect. Our worst Christmas travel stories pale in comparison to traveling by donkey, about to birth a child. How often are we impatient when waiting to check into a hotel? How would we react to being offered a stable for the night? What mother would want to lay their baby in a lowly manger, wrapped in bands of cloth, perhaps tore from her own garments? It seems to me that Christmas is more about our brokenness than anything else. In the midst of this chaos, this messy, tangled, confusing existence, our Lord takes human form and lives amongst us. Make time today to remember that very first Christmas, when the King of Kings deigned to become one of us, born in a lowly stable. Consider his first followers were shepherds, the lowest of the low, despised by the priestly elite. Remember the wise men who must have seemed foolish to follow a star, across deserts and in defiance of authority, to seek out an infant child. And remember, that same King of Kings still seeks after us all, not matter how battered, or how lost.

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

Verses 3 & 4 of Angels We Have Heard on High

Text and photo entitled ‘Nativity Made Whole’ by Connie Chintall ©2013

Reflecting on Mary….

The weather turned cold this morning, just in time for Christmas. We’re finishing our final preparations and double checking everything is ready for tomorrow. So I was drawn to this photo of a shadow cast by a manger scene taken by my friend Mary. It’s so easy to lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. Sometimes we get so turned around, we are facing the shadows instead of the light. We get caught up in all the busy-ness of the season, making sure we have a gift for everyone who has given us one. We rush out to get something if we receive an unexpected present, rather than gratefully accepting what we have been given. Perhaps this Christmas is less than we hoped for, due to financial concerns or ill health. Yet whatever we are facing pales in comparison to the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. I spent the end of my pregnancy on bed rest, while Mary spent hers riding a donkey. When the time came, we took a short drive to the sparkling clean, well equipped hospital. Mary wasn’t sure where she would have her baby. After so many had turned them away, I am sure even a stable seemed a welcome prospect. It seems they found shelter just in time. Take time today to consider the real meaning of Christmas, when the Holy of Holies deigned to humble himself and took on human form. Consider following the path of Mary, responding to Christ’s call by saying, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word be fulfilled”. And remember, even 2000 years later, it’s never too late to turn toward the manger. Photo by Mary Staley

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 220 other followers