As we bring down the Christmas boxes and totes from the attics or bring them up from the basement, for many of us, hidden in one of the boxes are our beloved nativity scenes. I know for myself, my favourite Christmas decoration is my Willow Tree Creche. It was something I started collecting many years ago, each year adding to the collection, and most pieces actually gifted to me from family. Each year as I open the boxes, revealing various characters of the stories I can’t help but wonder.
…I wonder what was going through their minds when they heard the news?
…I wonder what was it like giving birth in a stable?
…I wonder the smells, the sounds, the sights of this holy night?
During our monthly staff meeting, I shared an opening devotion that allowed us to look at the various characters of the nativity story and that made us wonder who in the nativity do we most resonate with?
With a devotion found through Soul Shepherding, we looked at the various characters and reflect on the creche.
This Advent season I invite you to sit and ponder the various roles of each individual present in the nativity, the thoughts and emotions they may have felt, and who, this Advent season, are you? The following may be a resource that you can use as you set up your own Creche at home.
Mary offered the prayer that receives the Christmas miracle: “Let it be to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38, NKJV). She was God’s chosen vessel to give birth to the Messianic dream that God’s people had been waiting hundreds of years for. But as any mother knows, it’s painful to give birth! And in her case, she had the added trials of being rejected as an immoral woman and riding 90 miles uphill on a donkey just before giving birth to her son in a stable full of dirty, loud, smelly animals! (Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-7, 19-20). Perhaps you can relate to the promise and challenge of giving birth to God’s dream for you? Is there something special that you hope to give birth to this Christmas season? Are you waiting in anticipation for something miraculous to take place? This Advent Season, are you like Mary?
Joseph’s daring faith in God is sometimes missed in the Christmas story. He believed in Mary’s virginity when no one else did and he endured a lifetime of ridicule for doing so. He bet his life on words that an angel spoke to him while he was sleeping. He accepted the daunting challenge to raise the Messiah as his own child (Matthew 1:18-25). Maybe you too are facing a challenge? Do you need God’s help to prevail in an overwhelming struggle? Is your faith calling you to action, while others are calling you to question? This Advent Season, are you like Joseph?
What joy was Gabriel’s and all the angels who announced the Christmas gospel! What a glorious message they sang from the skies just above the shepherds’ heads! (Luke 2:8-15). Maybe this Christmas season you know that you need to cultivate a heart of worship for Christ? What do you especially appreciate and admire about Christ? What Good News is on your heart to proclaim to the world? This Advent Season, are you an angel?
Imagine the thrill that the shepherds felt when the angels sang the news that the Messiah, the King of kings had just been born in Bethlehem! No one would’ve ever picked the shepherds to be visited by Christmas angels. They were poor. They were social cast offs. And yet that’s exactly the point of the Gospel: the last shall be first, the poor shall be rich, the least shall be the greatest, the humble shall be exalted. Probably the shepherds marvelled at God’s generosity and kindness and felt unworthy (Luke 2:8-20). Is it hard for you to accept that God bestows glory on you? Are you confident in God’s acceptance of you? This Advent Season, are you a Shepherd?
Probably some lambs went with the shepherds to see the newborn King (Luke 2:7, 16). Imagine a little lamb skipping with delight across the fields to go see the baby Jesus in a stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Then see her smiling with joy to stand right next to Jesus as she peers into his manger. Perhaps this Christmas what you’d like more than anything else is to accompany the shepherds and their sheep to get closer to Jesus? What would help you to be closer to Christ? This Advent Season, are you like a lamb?
The three magi studied the stars and the ancient prophecies, risked their lives to take a difficult journey across the desert, and dealt with the deadly King Herod – all to give their gifts to the newborn king. Whoever heard of kings worshipping another king? These wisest of all wise men wanted to give their best gift to Christ (Matthew 2:1-12). Maybe you are drawn to follow the wise men’s example of giving a gift to Christ? Maybe you are drawn to sharing your gifts? This Advent Season, are you a Magi?