If you happened upon any one of the many multi-figurine nativity sets in my house right now (from Peanuts to handcrafted around the world to Fontanini!), you’d be met with an unusual sight.
Liam helped me set each of these up, you see. Now a curious kindergartener, he took interest in certain parts of our Christmas decorations this year. (Some decorations were “so boring,” of course, but others seemed to capture his attention.) He and I were puttering around the house in one of our snow days last week, when I somewhat offhandedly asked him to set one of these up while I did something else. After a few quiet moments, he hollered at me to come and see.
I walked up to find the familiar scene — shepherds and wise men, angels and animals, doting parents, little babe — but I quickly noticed that the donkeys, camels, and sheep were awfully close to the stable scene.
“Liam, it looks like the animals have a front row seat!,” I exclaimed with laughter.
“They do,” he said nonchalantly, almost with a hint of exasperation that I’d even comment on such an obvious detail. “They want to smell the baby.”
Whatever it was I hurriedly worked on that moment was set aside, as I sat before my little one in gratitude for such a profoundly simple reminder of the spirit and practices evoked by the Christ child. This season causes many to remember the baby Jesus, to set him gently on our tables in sweet tableau, to sing sweetly about him and put him forth as ‘the reason for the season.’
But lest we forget, this One who came to dwell among us causes all of God’s created world to lean in, to hover close, to bow our heads and bend our bodies towards the fragrant offering he brings into our world. If in our ‘mad dash to the manger’ we arrive there having only remembered the babe in our minds, our homes, and our hearts, we will have missed an opportunity to welcome Love-made-flesh with our very flesh and bones. For his arrival was a sign for all the world, a sign set before us through torn heavens, smelly shepherds, decorated kings, and a woman whose baby stirred within her, laboring to enter this world in an ordinary birth that would change everything.
So may we stretch our limbs yearning for Hope.
May we move our feet working for Peace.
May we kneel and rest stretching for Joy.
May we open our hands surrendering for Love.
For unto all is born a Savior!
Merry Christmas, beloved community!
Together in the work of Love,