The Shunning of Christ (A Re-post from Christmas Past): An Advent Devotional – Day Eleven

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.”

IMG_2518While 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:

IMG_2516When 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.

IMG_2517FOR REFLECTION
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.

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The Shunning Continues

Recently my sister-in-law was responsible for setting up a live nativity following a Christmas parade in our local community. She had been assured there would be a place for her dramatists to don their costumes, along with a spot for hot cocoa and cookies to be served. What she had not realized was that this place was merely an unlocked room located up a tall, narrow flight of stairs (not exactly conducive to the traipsing back and forth of long-robed participants or lugging heavy boxes of costumes or the wheelchair holding her nine-year-old daughter). In desperation, she began going door to door at the local businesses, asking if there was a small spot where her participants could come in and drink a cup of hot cocoa while being sheltered from the cold.

Akin to the reality of the original Nativity, she received the same response as did Mary and Joseph. There was no room at the inn. Business after business closed their doors.

“There’s really no room for you here…”

“We can’t afford to get our carpets dirtied…”

Excuse after excuse turned the small band away.

There was simply no room for Baby Jesus and His followers.

No place to provide warmth from the cold night air.

Perhaps saddest of all was that my sister-in-law had been informed she needed to keep the “religious” theme away from the “Santa Claus” theme.

And where exactly was jolly, old Saint Nick? Front and center in the warmth and bustle of the shopping mall, a long line of families with children anxiously making their way toward his lap to share their Christmas list.

And the Savior of the World was once again overlooked, placed in the margins, confined to the cold.

Frustrating for my sister-in-law, but fitting, really. A rude reminder of reality. A reality that places more emphasis on reindeer and mistletoe than on the humble Babe lying in a manger.

No room at the inn.

No room in our hearts.

And we wonder why the world seems so dark beneath the glow of tinsel and lights as we eagerly grasp for candy-cane placebos while neglecting the swaddled-wrapped gift of Salvation come in human form.

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Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to see and receive you into our lives. This Christmas and always, may You find a place of warmth and love to dwell among those who call you their Savior.

The Shunning of Christ (A Re-post from Christmas Past)

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.”

IMG_2518While 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:

IMG_2516When 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.

IMG_2517FOR REFLECTION
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.