Pastor’s Friday Comments (12.07.18)

Most Christian families include one or more Nativity Scenes among their Christmas decorations. One of my personal favorites was given to us many years ago by a dear friend. It has always fallen to me to put out all the pieces — there are thirty of them — and it takes all the dexterity of my ten thumbs to get the tiny figures in their proper places. We usually arrange it on an end table in the living room, but this year, with extremely active grandchildren, it has been relegated to the loft where I write.

I find it to be a simple pleasure to set out the various pieces because there are so many characters that you don’t usually see at the Nativity. There are the usual principles — Mary and Joseph and Jesus, of course, as well as the shepherds and sheep and other animals. But there are also townspeople and merchants and, near the back, there is the innkeeper and his wife.

Some of them look toward the Holy Family, but most of them are looking outward, as if they didn’t even notice the miraculous event that has occurred in their midst. Above the stable the angel proclaims the good news but not every ear is tuned to the pitch of an angel’s voice.

As I go about my simple task, I am always reminded of the vast diversity of people for whom Christ came. Shepherds represent the simple and poor, Wise Men (who arrived later) stand in for Gentiles, the nations not part of the original Abrahamic faith. But we should remember that Jesus came for merchants too, ones who have to make a buck to keep body and soul together.

And even the innkeeper, probably unfairly reviled for refusing to give Mary and Joseph a place in his inn, has a place in the holy scene. He probably did the best he could under the circumstances, offering a place of privacy for the birth, crude though it may have been.

Make no mistake, there could have been emperors and kings and religious rulers there too, if they had been willing to come, but they had hooked their wagons to other stars, and somehow missed the one over Bethlehem.

And so it goes. Jesus came for all of us, not just the few in the paintings and in the creches. We all have jobs to do, families to provide for, responsibilities to fulfill, but in the midst of all our busyness, the Savior comes. Let’s not be caught looking out, facing the world and all we have to do there, when we should be looking in, focusing on the One who came to give us abundant life.

As the Advent Season progresses look again for where Christ is at work in the world, and join him there.