One of my most treasured possessions is a nativity set that my brother lovingly hand carved for my mom about twenty-five years ago. It always held a place of honour in her home and now that she is no longer with us, the gift was passed on to me.
Since it is made of wood, there has never been a problem with children moving the pieces around. Everyone can enjoy this nativity. Thinking of this brought to mind a story I heard several years ago that I want to share with you today.
In order to save the beautiful ceramic nativity set from the grasping, sticky fingers of her young daughter, Linda crafted a play grouping of burlap, canvas and yarn. Five-year-old Elizabeth would spend hours rearranging the pieces and acting out the Christmas story. Mother would quietly laugh to herself when she heard Elizabeth inevitably say, “Hey, Jesus mother, can I hold your baby?”
Mother couldn’t picture the work-roughened hands of a shepherd cuddling an infant. But it made perfect sense to little Elizabeth; if these people were going to make a trip to see a baby, they wouldn’t want to leave without holding it.
Think about it. She really isn’t that far off. When you see a baby it’s only natural to admire it or comment on how cute it is. But, if you actually pick up that baby, a phenomenon takes place. Somehow, holding that child, gazing into those wide eyes and connecting with that uniquely God-given personality – that baby gets into your heart!
Don’t you think the shepherds were drawn in the same way to embrace the Infant of Bethlehem and experience the miracle of His love in their hearts that first Christmas?
This year, as you make your journey to the stable in Bethlehem, don’t just gaze on the Child in the manger and turn away unchanged. Embrace the Baby Jesus, the pure light of God’s love, and let Him shine in your hearts and make your lives new.
Don’t leave without holding the baby.