We walk hand-in-hand, the five of us, unsure of what we were getting into and trying to stay warm in the midwestern winter air.
The down coats were zipped and the mittens tucked under sleeves. The hats covered ears and thick clothes lined underneath.
We could drive it or we could walk it and at the last minute, we decided we would indeed walk.
It’s called “The Live Nativity” but we quickly learned that the scene of Jesus’ birth is only one small part of this walk-through journey at a local church in our community. It was a series of scenes that depicted the life of Jesus – starting in the garden with a man, a woman, and a snake so many years ago.
Mesmerized by the scene with Adam and Eve and enthralled with that big, stuffed snake, the middleman asks “Why again did Eve eat the apple?”
We watched the scene with the angels coming to both Mary and Joseph and needed to watch it three more times after that.
Passing through the town of Bethlehem, my children saw kids their own ages dressed in clothes from the time of Jesus. They noticed a pregnant woman on a donkey with a man by her side listening to the inskeeper say there was no room at the inn.
And then there it was. The humble scene that changed it all.
Not a palace but a stable. Not a bed of the finest linens but a manger. No fireworks and fanfare but the still, night sky.
And they stopped in utter intrigue.
Here it was – live before there very own eyes. After hearing about it and reading about it and wondering about it, here it was.
And no, it isn’t completely real and no there are likely several inaccuracies but still…they saw.
Humble beginnings are no gauge of what’s to come. God will use anyone.
She slips her hand into mine and I navigate the stroller holding the three year old – my own baby that’s not really a baby anymore and makes me want to rip the little one straight out of Mary’s arms if it wouldn’t just be so socially-odd to do so.
We walk to the back stretch and see the shepherds and the angels.
And then I hear it.
Expletives yelled out a car window. Hostile shouts. Language I don’t want my children to hear.
“For crying out loud,” I think, instantly going to anger. “How could anyone do such a thing?” I think yet know I’ve seen worse – but still always taken aback when faced with the broken pieces of the world.
I won’t tell you what I wanted to yell back.
As if waiting for this exact moment to happen, my sweet husband smiled and yelled “Merry Christmas!” along with five other men standing nearby. Without planning to do so, united they stood.
Because in the end, that’s what we’re called to do when we’re met with hostility, isn’t it? Isn’t that what Jesus did when he was being mocked while hanging from the cross? Didn’t the people spit at him and ask why couldn’t He save Himself if was the so-called King?
Yes. It is.
We continue walking and the middleman and the oldest two remain quiet, digesting it all, wondering. These stories they have heard are coming alive right before their very eyes.
At the end, when we see that He’s not in the tomb and He has risen, she sighs.
“What is it?” I ask the clone of myself at six, the blue eyes tearing at the cold and the face revealing that there’s something deep going on under that skull.
“I just love this story, Mommy,” she reveals.
“What story, Sis?” I question.
“This story of Jesus – His birth, His life, His death, His coming back,” she answers.
Releasing an exhale of peace, I grip her hand tighter while a tear held back at the gate breaks free.
“Me, too,” is all I can muster to say.
On this Monday, God, I thank you for:
631. Truth that allows us to recreate and make it a little more real to us all
633. The friendship between Mary and Elizabeth
634. Tired late-night giggles after a fun-filled day
635. Hot chocolate and cookies
636. Christmas movies and TV shows
637. The fire
638. The smell of evergreen
639. The ultimate gift
640. Small, humble beginnings…
This week may you stop and remember to be filled with wonder, choose kindness against hostility and appreciate the story.