Christmastime. Time for frightful weather. Time for cozy blankets/fires. Time for gift giving/receiving. Time for budget testing/stretching/busting. Also a time for memory making. Some memories are painful and eager to be forgotten. Others welcome and ready for passing on; ready to be tradition.
One of the traditions we enjoy in our family (which we adopted from the Niles family, I think) is recounting the Christmas story from the Gospels, while assembling a Nativity decoration. Everyone has a character (or two) and when they are mentioned in the story, we add them to the scene. So for a little while we get to pretend we are that character. However, we don’t get to choose the character; we draw them from a hat.
Now, if you could choose, who would you identify with the most? Mary, thrust into motherhood? Joseph, in the midst of a scandalous engagement? The shepherds, outcasts and not considered a reliable source of information? The Magi, strangers to everyone. What about the angel, boldly proclaiming the Good News; and the host of heaven praising God with grandeur? And Jesus, as a baby, fragile and dependent?
I’m not sure you could go wrong with your selection. Because the way I see it, each of these characters were obedient. No matter what the circumstance, no matter their social status, they followed God and trusted Him to be true, right, and good.
But there are other characters in this story too. And if your Nativity scene is like ours, there are no figures for the Inn Keeper, the Chief Priests, or Herod. And though you may not identify with any of these characters, there are some in this world that do. There are some who don’t have room for a Lord in their life. Some know about “this Jesus” but don’t do anything about it. And some will do anything to make “this Jesus” go away.
But God loves them. And with God’s help, we’ll love them too, even when it’s hard. So who are you? If you are a child of God, we must love one another. And as we love one another, let us also love our neighbors.