Brenda Rebro, International Volunteer (US)
Since I was a little girl, my very favourite Christmas decoration was our nativity scene. It was the one decoration that I was eager to put up on my own. Placing the animals outside of the stable, the shepherd nearby watching over the sheep, the wise men off in the distance coming with their gifts, Mary and Joseph tending to baby Jesus. For me, it was and still is the one decoration that truly symbolises the true meaning of the season – the birth of Jesus.
We celebrate American Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, so once Thanksgiving is done, we are free to set up our Christmas decorations. To be ready for the start of Advent, the time that we prepare for the birth of our Lord.
We thought that we should make the scene “come alive” by writing stories about what they might be doing or thinking at the time of their Saviour’s birth.
“Josiah, look at the stars tonight.”
Josiah gazes up at the stars and smiles.
“Yeah, some nights are prettier than others. I think tonight is beautiful.”
I nod. We look ahead and realise that we are behind the other shepherds. We run to catch up with them and our own sheep. When we get close, I slow down and change my walk into a stalk. I creep slowly, stealthily, until finally, I tackle Daniel and yell “Got ya!” Josiah falls down laughing. Daniel staggers as he stands up.
“Quit messing around,” he says.
I laugh, “What else do you expect from me? I’ve got to find some way to make this job fun.”
He laughs. Josiah nods and says, “Yeah, every night is the same.”
An angel was about to break through the monotony of their night to bring the most glorious news they had ever heard. Are you too busy with life, to realise that there is a Saviour waiting for you? Do you need a terrifying vision in the dead of night to snap you to attention? Thankfully, despite being terrified, scripture tells us that after the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds quickly hurried off to Bethlehem to see what the Lord had told them about.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10
The Wise Men
“Gaspar, look!” I call.
“What? What is it? Is tonight the night?” he asks.
“I think it is,” I reply as I stare into the sky, filled with awe.
“Oh! Balthazar! Come quickly!” Gaspar calls.
Balthazar comes running in, and asks, “What is it?” He looks up at the night sky and gasps.
“Yes, tonight is the night we have been waiting for,” I say as I put my hand on each of their shoulders, “Tonight the King has finally come.”
The Magi had come a long distance to find Jesus and to worship Him. Are you eager to have more understanding of the Saviour? Do you come to Him with your most precious gifts, seeking to worship Him for WHO He is, not what He can do for you? Are you willing to travel a thousand miles to keep seeking and asking where He can be found?
“Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Mt 2:2
Mary and Joseph
“Mary, I am so sorry. You deserve better than this,” I tell my wife.
She sits down and puts a hand on her bloated stomach, and says, “It’s alright, Joseph. It will have to do.”
I glance around at the disgusting stable we are in. The animals munch happily, oblivious that we have interrupted their peaceful home.
“But - but it smells terrible in here!” I complain. I know I shouldn’t be. She’s the pregnant one, not me.
“Joseph, the Saviour of the world is going to be born tonight.” She says as she smiles up at me.
“Yeah…” I say hesitantly.
“What’s wrong?” she asks me.
“It’s just - I’m still a little confused about this whole thing. What does that even mean?”
“Well, it means that our son will save us - and the whole world - from our sin. Isn’t that exciting?”
I study her as her smile lights up her face. I shake my head sadly, and wonder why I don’t feel the same way.
Are you Joseph? Or are you Mary, excited and happy to know your Saviour even better?
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
The good news is that all of these characters came to understand who this Jesus was to them. He was their Saviour, the Messiah, Emmanuel – God with them. He came to save the people from their sins (Mt 1:21). Won’t you take a moment to ponder which character you are in this Christmas story?
During Advent, let this season be one of deep reflection and revelation of who the baby in the manger is to you.