“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.” —Psalm 119:49
Peace family, one of the things that I love about Christmas, is the prevalence of nativity scenes. Although they all might look different, they carry the same beautiful message of encouragement.
I’ve seen the Holy Family imagined as all kinds of people: dark-skinned, blonde, Andean (complete with llamas in the stable), and even Thai. Growing up, my family had several South American nativities, and as my family was a fairly agricultural family, our main nativity included all kinds of animals (as collected by my mother) gathered around the Holy Family in the stable. Charming though it may be, I have my doubts that those animals were present at the actual birth of Christ; for example, ours is the only creche I’ve ever seen in which the shepherds have a Collie dog, or ducks and chickens by the manger, a barn owl in the rafters, and a large, red bullock (Limousine breed?) in the back. Ours also included the Magi, who actually probably were not simply three kings, and who actually probably did not arrive to give their gifts to Jesus until he was about two years old.
I know that political correctness has become a huge deal in the last ten years or more, but there’s something so beautiful about these creche scenes, even if they aren’t historically accurate.
The beauty of Christmas is this: God so loved the world, that he sent his son in the form of human flesh to make his dwelling among us, that we might see his glory. Was Jesus born in Israel, to Jewish parents, who likely were olive-skinned with dark hair? Yes. Is that the most important thing about a nativity scene? Absolutely not!
The beauty is that Jesus came for all of us, all people, of every nation. We often hear the name, “Emmanuel,” at this time of year, and it literally means, “God with us.”
No matter what Jesus looked like, he had eyes and ears to see and hear the suffering and needy, two hands to feed the hungry and heal the sick, and two legs to travel to those he loved, and climb the hill to the cross. He had lips to share the good news of God’s forgiveness and redemption for us, a temper that could be ignited in the face of injustice, and a heart that could be broken over our ignorance and shame. Like us, he hungered, thirsted, loved, laughed, bled and cried.
Peace family, one of my favorite Christmas songs is “Some Children See Him,” by James Taylor, and that’s what I think of when I see these culturally diverse nativity scenes; you can find a link to listen to it, here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s49gEmTlOTk&app=desktop
I hope it will encourage you!
When you see a nativity scene, no matter how simple or elaborate, let it bring joy to your heart. Remember that God embraces us, and we can embrace him, too.
“ Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”—Matthew 6:26
“Rejoice always”—I Thessalonians 5:16
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Peace family, have you ever thought of Christmas cards as an opportunity to show love, reach out, and restore peace?
I know Christmas cards are a dying art, but when I was a child, one of my favorite things each year was the way that my mom would take all of the Christmas cards that we received and tape them up around the kitchen. It made things festive and bright! Cards are rarer these days, and I haven’t sent any out myself in many years, but I still love them. I’m always very touched when I get one.
Christmas cards might not mean much to some people, but they can mean a lot to others. They show you that you made it onto someone’s list, that they care about you and thought about you, and that they felt you were worth the time, effort, and cost of sending a card.
This year, I’ve been feeling a lot of compulsion to send out cards to the people I love, especially including relationships where I’ve dropped the ball, maybe lost touch a bit, or even been hurt. I also feel like it’s a great opportunity to share love with those who are most difficult to love at Christmas.
Do you know someone who is hateful? Despicable? Hurtful? On some level, he or she must be hurting, no matter how well they disguise it. Why not send them a Christmas card, telling them that they are valuable and God loves them, and then privately pray for them over the next several weeks? I’m doing that, and I’m excited about it!
In this season of joy and peace, let’s let our love of God flow generously out of our hearts and into others. You don’t have to sign your card, but that small act of love and kindness in a Christmas card might make a difference in someone’s life. You never know! You might not see a difference, but any act of compassion and kindness is never wasted.
“All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.“—Psalm 119:160
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”—John 3:17
“The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.” —Zechariah 14:9