The other day, my daughter and I decorated the Christmas tree. This long-standing tradition also included the setting up of nativity scenes. Yes, that IS plural. Somewhere along the line, we have accumulated THREE of these treasured creches. Which is actually a good thing, considering the fascination my children have had with nativity sets throughout the years.
While some folks have beautiful figurines of great value, mine are of cheap ceramic, which means they have offered many years of “Baby Jesus and the manger” playtime. The largest set takes primary placement beneath the Christmas tree, while the other two are positioned in locations at the discretion of the chosen manger caregiver (aka: whoever gets to the boxes first). To be sure, there is much rearranging that takes place throughout the weeks leading up to the actual celebration of said manger baby’s birth.
This year’s placement was not nearly as dramatic since there was no one fighting over – I mean, attempting to carefully place – the beloved figurines. In fact, in my haste to complete the decorating task, I rather unceremoniously emptied the contents of Nativity Set #2 with instructions for my daughter to arrange them as she pleased. Considering to whom I was giving such unreserved rights, I should not have been surprised by the arrangement that was chosen. But still, I was caught off guard when I glanced at the set and saw Mary and Joseph with their backs firmly turned toward Baby Jesus. When I asked my daughter what on earth she was doing, she smiled and answered, “They’re shunning Him.”
While I could not help but smile at my daughter’s sense of humor, I had to admit her arrangement seemed much more appropriate considering the reality of how the Christmas season often appears to be celebrated. For while we all say that Jesus is the Reason for the Season, sadly, our actions seldom align themselves in accordance with our declaration. In a bit of holiday silliness, the two of us came up with what we considered would be an even more appropriate rendition of the celebration of Christmas in America.
Perhaps our nativity set would appear more fitting as the following:
When my husband noticed our circle of gift-worshipers, he suggested we keep it that way in order to make a statement… or perhaps simply to serve as a reminder of the true meaning versus our true actions. Regardless, this simple act has spoken volumes to my heart and is challenging me to resist getting carried away with the world’s twist of all things godly. Instead, I am determined to keep my focus firmly fixed on Jesus this year.
While it’s tempting to shun the Christ Child amidst all the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, I pray we will never find ourselves glorifying anything or anyone more highly than the Most High. Instead of shunning Jesus, may we determine to set our hearts and our minds on things above and not on the things of this earth.
May we shun shunning even as we turn our faces to meet and accept the greatest Gift of all — the Savior who has come to deliver us from our sins.
Do you fight the temptation to turn from the true meaning of Christmas as you’re tugged toward the glow of tinsel and lights? What are some practical ways you can keep Jesus as the center of your Christmas celebration? It may be as simple as taking time to read Scripture and encourage yourself in its truths, or it may mean you need to cut back on the gift-giving and spend your efforts and your dollars on things that pour love into the lives of others less fortunate than yourself. Regardless of how you readjust your position, may you find yourself forever facing the steady glow of manger’s light.