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Advent Devotional December 7: Living Nativity

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” --Matthew 19:14

By Angela Holder 

I think I was around six or seven when I first staged a nativity scene on Christmas afternoon. I know it was my own idea; no adult urged me to or even suggested the possibility. I assembled the elements that would become a tradition. Two white, plastic, child-sized chairs draped with an orange, crocheted afghan made the manger. My Raggedy Ann doll wrapped in a pastel baby blanket became Baby Jesus. I dressed my younger sister in a bathrobe, tied a handkerchief around her head, and stationed her behind the manger as Joseph. I donned my pretti est flannel nightgown and draped a scarf over my hair. After dragging my parents in to watch, I knelt beside the manger, opened my Bible, and laboriously sounded out “Augustus” and “Quirinius” as I read the Christmas story.

Every year, after the presents were opened and the turkey eaten, I repeated the production. My sister got old enough to fight me for the role of Mary, and I had to admit her long blonde hair looked the part better than my pixie cut. Once I kept reading after the shepherds left, expecting the story of the wise men, and made it all the way through Simeon and Anna before I gave up. Some years the nativity was the concluding act of an elaborate show featuring multiple song and dance numbers. Once when my cousins were visiting, we had a toddler angel perched on a step stool and a shepherd leading our white Lhasa Apso for a sheep. I was bossy, opinionated, and not a very good director, so while there was yelling, tears, and the other actors threatened to quit, eventually the story was told.

At some point during middle school, I let the tradition die. I guess I got too old to take it seriously, but even after all these years, somewhere deep in my heart, the manger is still draped with orange acrylic yarn, and Baby Jesus still looks like Raggedy Ann.

Lord, help us experience Christmas with the wonder and joy of little children. Amen

Angela Holder has been a member of South Main for more than twenty-five years. She sings in the choir, plays handbells, and regularly appears in South Main Summer Musicals.


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