Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing a Memory, Sharing my Heart

Night at the Nativity
Written by Kristen Hutchinson, December 2006

Last night, we had the opportunity to portray Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and an angel as a family. I must say that the anticipation was somewhat stressful for me. The baby was a bit fussy throughout the day, and my four year old needed me, too. When nap time rolled around, I was ready! However, it just didn't seem like a nap would come for the baby. I sleepily kept thinking while I rocked her, "maybe God is preparing her for her role tonight. It will be good for her to sleep then." Thankfully, rest did come for awhile.

When we awoke, my anxiousness was at a new level. How would the night go? A two month old playing Jesus is a lot more unpredictable than a baby doll Jesus. And a four year old, well she would just stand right there with us, dressed as an angel or shepherd, right? Our time slot was for an hour and a half. Could we do it? What if the baby was fussy the whole time? I doubtfully assured myself that it would be okay. Then, Daddy walked in from work, and the mad dash began. Get fed. Get dressed. Get there.

Once we arrived, I quickly surveyed the area. People already gathering, waiting for the 'cast' to get in place. Animals, lots of them. We quickly got into costume and wandered around taking it all in for a few minutes before we had to take our spot. I wrapped the baby up and tried to get her to sleep as I walked around looking at all of the animals. I didn't go in the pen. These were big animals...well, only donkeys, goats and their babies. But, my baby around dirty animals, I don't think so. Our four year old had quite the opposite reaction. She immediately loved on nearly every animal there! Okay, let her get it out of her system before she has to go be a good little angel.

Time to take our places. The weather was warm enough, but the hay, animals, dust, dirt...the place for my baby, I thought. Then, there was the manger filled with hay. Our four year old kept excitedly shouting, "Put her in the manger!" I kept saying, "No. She's fine with me." That manger was no place to lay my baby down. It didn't seem very comfy like all the things she lays on at home. However, I reluctantly agreed. People lined up and came in and had their pictures with us.

And there she laid. The perfect little person to pretend to be baby Jesus. It was truly precious, but it didn't last the whole time. The animals came in and went straight for the manger. I, being the protective mother, scooped the baby up. I didn't want them thinking she was food. A manger. A food trough. The animals' home. How strange it felt to have our precious baby there.

Was this how it might have been? Did Mary and Joseph feel discouraged that this was the best they had for their baby that night long ago? And He was no ordinary baby. He was a king, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Messiah, the Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, the Prince of Peace, Immanuel... God with us! And He was laid in a manger! The dust, the dirt, the smell. All for us. Our dirt. Our smell. Our sin. What a night! And what a night for our family, too.