Sunday, November 22, 2009

Baby Jesus

The little kids have started rehearsing for their Sunday school Christmas program. We are going to be quite traditional and stick close to the Christmas story that pre-dates all others: we will have shepherds, and wise men, and Herod, and angels. Unlike the big church pageants, nothing will fly and no snow will fall. No interpretive angels in our church. Two children are going to be Joseph and Mary. At church on Wednesday, the little girl who will be playing Mary smiled all night down at the baby doll who will be Jesus. She cuddled and rocked him as we all sang Away in the Manger. I almost cried right then and there at the innocence and love displayed by that little girl.
But don't you think that was part of God's design when He decided to send His Son as a human baby? Nearly all of us have memories or experiences that bring us close to the Nativity scene. When I was growing up and visiting grandparents at Christmas time, one of the houses on Greenberry road had a life sized Nativity scene. Not only was there a stable, Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and angel, but the shepherds brought life sized sheep (though not real ones) and, best of all, the kings led life sized camels! It was marvelous and, because the house in question had a tower room, almost magical to me. Our manger scene at home was simple but the figures were lovely and dignified. My mother would place it on cedar branches so it would smell of the outdoors. Baby Jesus must have had good circulation though because I don't think he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in his manger bed. The creche' at Granny's had been played with. All the figures were separate from the scene and could be arranged to suit the viewer except for Mother Mary. It didn't bother us as good Lutherans, but she had lost her head at some point and each year received a new blue Kleenex as a mantle. I have another manger scene in my closet now from Granny's house; I place it on the bookcase with lots of fake snow and blue lights as starlight. All the figures are stuck down; that is probably what preserved it all those years at her house.
Over the years our family has participated in the Live Nativity at our church. Millie is one of the creators and originators of many of the robes and costumes for the production. Several of the king costumes are king-sized reflecting the stature of her sons and now grandsons and grandsons in law. There are little shepherd suits and little angel suits constructed when first her grandchildren and now, great grand children, grew old enough to stay outside for the half hour stints as play actors. I say "stay"and not "stand" outside deliberately, because some of the finest and funniest moments we've had as family have occurred when the littlest shepherds have taken a notion to chase chickens or climb the straw bales or break the silence that is supposed to accompany the recitation of the Christmas story.
Everyone should be part of a live Nativity at some point. It is one way to nestle closer to the heart of Christmas and our Lord's birth. To stand silently for a length of time and hear Scripture and hymns is to contemplate the miracle of God's love. To stand silently with all one's family is a blessed time of shared faith for youngsters and oldsters. It is a shining example of joy and fellowship as we eat soup, dress up, add gloves and hats, gather up kids, wait our turn and share our faith with our community. What a wonderful combination of earth and heaven!

1 comment:

  1. My favorite part is that we never missed it because we were either in it or we could hear it from our house and we'd come up to watch.