Besides the five nativities with movable figures, I also have several small, fixed nativity ornaments or sets. Here are two of my favorites (plus a star) that I have hanging on my bamboo plant next to my kitchen sink (I haven’t managed to kill it yet!). My sister bought the dark wood ornaments for me in Africa, and on a recent trip to Ten Thousand Villages I treated myself to the carved gourd nativity made in Peru.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving we decorated the house for Christmas.
Our three youngest were in charge of putting ornaments on the tree, a chaotic process because the youngest, PJ, gets a little over-excited (I told my sister he was like a bunny rabbit on crack, which made her howl with laughter—not because of my description but because she could easily imagine it.) Plus, since none of them is over 4 ½ feet tall, there are a lot of territory skirmishes over the lower half of the tree, and it ends up a little bottom heavy—until the older ones come in and help them rearrange.
While the kids were busy with the tree, I put out the rest of the “stuff,” which includes a lot of Christmas books and five nativity sets: one I received as a child, painted by my Mammaw (yes, I’m from the deep South); three others Dave and I received for our Christmastime wedding more than twenty years ago; and one that the twins’ Sunday School teacher gave them when they were in first grade.
I arrange them just-so, in careful semi-circles so all their faces can be seen…
And then I wait for the nativity wars to begin.
The first attack this year was sneaky. I didn’t even see it happen. I walked through the dining room and noticed a clump, not a semi-circle, of figures on top of the piano.
He’s been at it, I thought.
I checked the others. Two of the remaining four had been rearranged.
I put them back in semi-circles, but just a few hours later they were all huddled together again, a crowd rather than a scene.
Son Jake and I love nativities.
We just like different arrangements.
So every year we do “battle” during the Christmas season.
We start out with sneak attacks, but pretty soon it becomes open warfare.
Last week we had a longtime friend over. She noticed the crowded nativity on the kitchen counter and began to rearrange it. I noticed what she was doing and laughed.
“It won’t stay that way.”
“Pretty soon Jake will come in here and push them all together again.”
And, suddenly, it hit me, the why. I couldn’t understand why I’d never seen it before.
“Because he wants them all close to Jesus, that’s why.” I was stating my revelation more than answering her question.
I tested my theory later that day.
“J-man, why do you like all the figures clumped like that? We can’t see their faces when you put them that way.”
His tone made it clear he thought he was answering a pretty dumb question. “But they can’t see Jesus when they’re all spread out.”
After all, what’s more important—that we see their faces or that they see Jesus?
It’s a busy, busy season, and we tend to get a little caught up with the celebration of it—and, often, with how others see us celebrate it.
But what’s more important—that they see us or that we see Jesus?
So gather as close as you can, crowd into Him, stretch high on tiptoes, do whatever you need to do to fix your gaze on HIM.
Because not only is that the absolute best for us, it’s also when others get glimpses of Him, too. When we press close to Jesus they want to see what we’re so excited to see. In our wonder and awe, they catch some of the fascination of Christ’s love for us.
It’s a fascinating love, isn’t it!
From glory, He put on flesh—such limitation!—and then “humbled Himself…” to “death on a cross.”
All for love!
All for us!
II Corinthians 8:9 “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.”