The moment the Living Nativity came together with all the cast gathered around a baby doll laying in the manger I was in awe of how God had once again kept His Story alive. I realized that what seemed a simple script, roughly cut and sewn costumes, and a stable made from left overs and scraps of wood, held within it the wonder and awe of God come to earth!
What I have learned is that God doesn’t mind the simple script, after all, it is His Word being proclaimed. And I don’t think He minds the roughly sewn costumes, because they are similar to the swaddling cloths He was wrapped in. And I’m quite sure He really likes the creative way a soccer goal is transformed into a stable.
But last Saturday night I was humbled as I stood and listened to the simple script, looking at the cast wrapped in swaddling costumes, all huddled together in the hand crafted stable, and I asked God’s forgiveness for my doubts about doing the Living Nativity. At that moment my excuses evaporated into the cold night air at the wonder of God’s Word being proclaimed to all who were there. My doubts seemed so insignificant as I watched the cast act out the Story of God come to earth as a Babe in a manger.
I am reminded that no other words could tell the Christmas Story better than God’s own Words. There is power in the Word of God and as it is spoken into the cold night air it is as seed falling on the hearts of men filled with the love and power to save and change lives forever! The Babe in the manger is the “Word of God” come to us, and because He came, lived among us, died for us, and rose again, we have been given the greatest gift; the gift of life!
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:1-5, 10-14
I am reminded that Jesus wasn’t born to a wealthy family. His parents hadn’t packed Him a new, finely made outfit to wear when He was born. Love was wrapped in swaddling cloths.
God gave the greatest gift ever given when He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth. Jesus wasn’t wrapped the way many believed the Messiah, the Savior of the world, would be wrapped. His “wrapping” didn’t line up with what they thought their Savior should look like. Things haven’t really changed. Today, many don’t receive Jesus, the gift of God, because He isn’t wrapped the way people want Him to be wrapped. Too often we define the Gift of God by the wrapping we see, rather than by opening up the swaddling cloths and seeing the greatness, the love that lies within!
“In God’s eyes He was like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground. But in our eyes there was no attractiveness at all, nothing to make us want Him. We despised Him and rejected Him – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we didn’t care.” Isaiah 53:2-3
I am reminded that Jesus humbled Himself when He left His throne in heaven and came to this earth. He wasn’t born in a palace, a mansion, not even in an Inn. Love was born in a stable.
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
God’s timing is perfect; yet there was no room for them in the Inn. If Mary and Joseph had arrived earlier there would have been room. God could have reserved a room for His Son. It was God’s will for His Son, Jesus, to be born in a stable.
I’m still not sure “How God sees Christmas”, but I pray some of these lessons from the Living Nativity will change my heart and give me a different perspective. May I not be distracted by my expectations or by the expectations of others, Instead…
May I realize the power of proclaiming God’s Word to those around me this Christmas. Holy Spirit, open my eyes to the needs of those around me and give me the boldness to share Your Words of Truth that have the power to save and to change lives for eternity.
May I know the greatness of God by embracing His “Gift of Love” wrapped in swaddling cloths. Jesus, I want to know You more, may I experience Your love, and be filled with Your love, so that I can share Your love with others this Christmas.
And may I have the same humility as Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served this Christmas. Father, Your timing and Your positioning is perfect. May I trust You even when I don’t understand my circumstances. Even when I feel I deserve an Inn and I end up in a stable. May I be willing to die to myself so that Your will is done. May I be willing to lay aside my rights so that others will see You.
Perhaps the best way to describe Christmas is with just one word – Love
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16