This is the nativity that I have used almost my entire life. It's nothing fancy, bought probably on sale after Christmas at a department store that no longer exists. I can't even remember the name, maybe Leslie's. I remember being with Mom and Grandma Johnson when it was purchased and I think I was probably about the same age as my girls now. Nothing fancy, but it's "home". The little wooden nativity on the speaker (left) I bought at a craft fair years ago and the white clay angel on the bottom left, who if you could see her face, is slightly "mongoloid", was made by a developmentally delayed adult, probably with Down Syndrome, at a special home/school in Germany where my friend's family worked. They were sold in a shop there to raise money for the school. We have not had a tree for years, but the nativity goes up every year. It reminds us all that we need to worship the King of all the Universe. I want to share part of a devotional article written by Charles F. Stanley from his free In Touch devotional magazine. He has several interesting Christmas articles and links at In Touch.
"If we truly understood what happened the night Jesus was born, we would never want to be anything less than what He has called us to be. But neither would we seek more than He planned. The notion of having the most of anything would seem foreign. The thought of fame and fortune would pale when compared to the idea of living in the light of God's holy love forever. We would worship the Savior not just with hastily prayed words but with our entire lives."
"Our culture often teaches that humility is a sign of weakness and aggressiveness gains the prize. So, we push to achieve much more than God intended and wonder why our lives feel drained and out of control. We have lost sight of the manger. We've overlooked the message of God's Word, which He gave us through the life of His Son - and in doing so, we have missed the glory of His presence.
"Watching the evening news, we can easily understand why people believe the world is out of control. It's easy to forget that the moment we begin to play by the rules of a society which is out of step with God, we feel the effect. Thoughts of chaos start to hamper our devotions to the Lord as well as our ability to think clearly. Conflict builds within our hearts, binding us to God's unconditional love and care. Confusion blocks our desire to have a deeper relationship with the one Person who can fill our hearts with eternal peace - the peace that was born that first Christmas night. Uncertainty about the future prevents us from doing the very thing that God longs for us to do, namely, to abide in His love, rest in His comfort and seek Him above all else."
He goes on to write that when we fail to understand what God gave us in the manger, we suffer deeply, often with anxiety, feelings of failure or insecurity and doubt. We don't have to live with this when we can turn to God and experience the gift of the Savior. Jesus was NOT just another baby born in lowly circumstances, He is the Son of God who was born as a human being so that He could be the perfect sacrifice in our place. He is a secure Hope for our future. If you are struggling, please ask Him for help. He will never turn you away.
Charles Stanley then says, "I am convinced that if we truly understood what God did for us through the birth of His Son, we would fall down before Him in worship and adoration. We would be overcome by the realization that the God of this universe loves us so much that He sent His Son to earth to live and ultimately to die for us."
I hope today in the midst of all the bustle, clearing the dishes, emptying all the bags of torn wrapping paper and ribbons, and visiting with remaining guests, that you can take a few moments to sit down with your family or find some quiet time to yourself to Worship the King. Let's remember to take a little of this majesty and glory and beauty with us into the New Year. I don't want to wait until Christmas again to remember this Most Important Gift.
Merry Christmas to you and all your families! God be with you as you celebrate and travel and share. And may He heal and touch the hearts that are grieving, the souls that are wounded and the lives that need to re-focus on Him. With love from the Lindamood Family!