Living in the Nativity
The Nobles love Christmas.
When I started to become a regular in the Nobles household, I was quickly aware of just how much this family loves Christmas. They are the ones that make this holiday have a certain sight, feel, and taste every year. There are the same sausage balls to be consumed, the same cozy blankets that can be curled up in, and the same decorations that are 100% sentimental and passed down through generations.
One of the mainstays is the nativity scene which has to be set up by my husband, David. He has the honor and privilege to create this holy scene and takes this task very, very seriously. This year, David drove into the city and set up each character while our toddler was running around his feet at the Nest.
What I love about this particular custom is that in recent years he wanted accurate Scriptural history and instead of putting the wise men in the stable, they are far away like they’re traveling to see the holy fam bam. (sidenote: the wise men didn't go to the stable; read Matthew 2:11)
Completely accurate. They are currently on the fireplace mantle.
But as my husband carefully positioned each figure, I told him we should put another person in the stable to see how long it took for J to notice. David laughed it off, but I was serious. So... I took one of the Playmobil dolls out of the toy box and placed it in a dark corner. It look less than two hours for J to notice there was another in the scene.
Tonight as I sit and giggle about it, I can't help but think about the moment in the stable 2,000 years ago and wonder if there were others.
In Luke 2, we have a fantastic narrative of Jesus’ birth. It starts with Caesar Augustus wanting to take an account for the population under his rule, so he decrees a census. It creates waves of people returning to their hometowns to register. One of them being Joseph, a descendant of King David. He and his very pregnant wife, Mary, end up alongside barn animals with only a manger for a bed because there were no rooms available.
Then there was labor.
And then there was a baby.
And then there was heaven glory that touched earth.
What I have been pondering is how average it seemed. Nothing spectacular to the human eye, but this was the moment the prophets spoke of. This was the moment that families told their children and grandchildren about in expectation. This was the moment that heaven held it’s breath for. And it’s a moment in history that was seemingly unnoticeable.
Except to a few people.
Shepherds watched angels sing “Glory!” Wise men discerned the birth of a King from the galaxies. Mary & Joseph embraced Emmanuel - God with us. But I wonder if there were a few others who understood there was something more to this event.
Can you imagine what it would be like to put yourself in the scene of the nativity?
Maybe you’re the innkeeper’s wife who went to check on the young couple who ended up in your stable. You probably heard they only had the cloaks on their backs, so you found what little blankets you had left (nothing more than rags) to bring some sort of comfort to them. And when you got to that humble stable, you saw a fresh delivery scene. Husband holding a new baby - worry etched across his face. And a girl, barely into womanhood, exhausted on the floor but praises on her lips.
Or maybe your brother was out in the fields watching over the family flock that night. You were just about ready to head to bed when you heard shouts from outside. You quickly opened the window to see your brother, cousin, and uncle come racing down the hill, and you think, “What in the world happened?!” They barged into the house talking so fast you could barely make out the words, “Angel” “Promise” and “Baby in a manger”. There was so much laughter and merriment as they dragged you into a dance, completely bewildering you all the more. And then your brother, with joy in his eyes grabbed your hand and said, “He’s come! He’s here! Emmanuel!!”
Or maybe you’re the neighbor who was down the way and saw a light in the stable cave. You thought it odd because that well-known area usually doesn’t have candles out this late at night. Better yet, amidst the clouds was a peculiar star in the sky. Curiosity started growing inside you, but too exhausted you went to bed. Then the next morning as you were drawing water, you overheard the other women talking about the strange couple and their new baby. The shepherds visitation. And how this moment just felt…. different.
I don’t know who was there in the first days of the Savior’s birth. But as we continue in expectation of Christmas and family and traditions, my hope and prayer is that the Lord gives us all fresh perspective of that night. We may not see ourselves, but we are in the story.
When Emmanuel came.
And others witnessed the glory unfolding.