Wishes for a Blessed and Happy New Year ring out to each of you. Holiday ornaments may still be dangling from your Christmas tree as you linger over the warmth of your holiday memories before packing away the decorations until next year. Yet on a nearby table or on the floor perhaps the glow of the manger scene beckons you to take one more look, remember the Christmas hymns which tugged on your heart, and thank God for His precious gift of Jesus. Don’t pack Him away with the ornaments.
I invite you to take a closer look at our family’s humble, less-than-elegant Nativity. If you follow me on Facebook, you may remember that I drew attention to our unique manger set and the story of how it became the centerpiece of our Christmas celebration. While its stature may resemble the meager setting in which our Savior was born, the story of how it came to be our Nativity is cloaked in love.
Hubby Tom and I gathered with others from our church in a large auditorium where voices bounced off the walls and table legs clamored as they pounded the floor in preparation for a church bazaar. Donors set up their treasures on the arranged tables to raise funds for a nearby seminary. Outside the hall, a woman stopped her car near an open hall door. As the woman gathered her gift for the raffle, she jostled her full box. Hubby offered to assist her set up a hand-crafted manger set.
He admired the intricate detail of each figure mentally assessing its value. After the pieces were arranged, the woman drove off. Surprised, Tom wondered what to do. Then someone slapped a clipboard in his hand, an empty sheet of notebook paper flapping against the board. It’s destination– the table where the Nativity rested. It was intended to draw interested buyers over to encourage bidding. To attract other people, Tom placed a starting bid on the sheet, then wandered back to me.
After awhile, Hubby circled back to see how much people had bid on the woman’s crocheted manger. He couldn’t believe that the first bid was barely higher than his initial suggestion. Tom increased the bid hoping to draw a higher amount for these valuable pieces. Gazing across the room from the table we manned, he kept an eagle eye out for other bidders. Finally, he rose and strolled nonchalantly to the Nativity display. With a sideways glance, he noticed no one had raised his bid. How could no one appreciate the hours of work and love invested in these figures, he wondered. Moved to honor the woman’s skill and dedication, Tom raised his own bid.
Just before closing, Hubby walked over to the table across the room from us. He checked with an administrator to make sure the bidding had closed. That afternoon, we drove away with our own Nativity set, strengthening our faith and establishing our home. In time, we sensed God’s providence in gifting us with this set.
“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31 NIV
That Nativity became the centerpiece of our Christmas celebrations throughout our decades of marriage. At first it held a prominent place on a piece of furniture near our front door. When our first child became two years old, he delighted in grabbing the sheep and dashing across the room grinning. The wooly lambs were pried from his hand and returned to their place among the other members of the Christmas story.
As our boys grew in knowledge of God’s word, we would read the Scripture and each one took turns placing the treasured figures around the manger according to the narrative. On Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus was placed in his soft manger.
Our Nativity reminds me of how Jesus came in humble beginnings and made us valuable in His sight. May you carry the treasure of our Savior’s love and sacrifice with you each day throughout this New Year. Don’t leave Him in the manger until next Christmas.
From My Heart to Yours,
Just a thought, friend, for you to check out. January 6th is the feast of Ephiphany. In the Western churches, it commemorates the visit of the wise men to adore Jesus as Divine, the King of Kings, and the Savior of all in their gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. It is said that the visit of the Magi signified salvation was for both Jew and Gentile who accept Jesus as Savior for their sins. I did some digging into this and it's quite interesting. One source I found was the Catholic News Agency.