Christmas is approaching, and I can almost feel it on my skin. The joy of the season falls like gentle snow; nothing is untouched. We take time to savour life—family, friends, community, food, song. Even what is common suddenly begins to sparkle.

You may be drawn to the sentimentality of It's a Wonderful Life, the excitement of Santa and his reindeer or the frivolity of Christmas crackers and party games. Whatever appeals to you, if you're like me, it's easy to let the magic carry you away, while the grittiness of a pauper baby in a cattle stall gets lost. It's easy to tuck the ancient story of the birth of Christ into a corner, remembering it when we light advent candles, but letting it collect dust the rest of the season.

So how can we make the story of the birth of Christ the focus of our celebrative hearts? How do we rejoice yet again over a story we've heard so many times before? I propose an engagement of our imaginations. Let's ask ourselves a question that will place us in the story: “Which person in the Nativity scene am I most like?”

Joseph. A simple man who played by the rules. He was kind and thoughtful. He shouldn't have been a man of note. And yet, God called him into his grandest scheme. Joseph was asked to do something for which he was completely unprepared: raise the Son of God. Are you an ordinary person to whom God has given an extraordinary responsibility?

Mary. If Joseph was of humble position, Mary (as a woman, and a very young one) was even more so. God asked her to play a role that would make her look bad in the eyes of others. Obedience required her to put everything on the line, including her reputation. Have you had to do something risky for God, even as certain people clucked their tongues at you, saying that you weren't doing things the “right way”?

Shepherds. Dirty, poor, isolated, living an unglamorous life. Even so, God saw them as worthy of receiving the biggest news in the history of humanity (prior to the news of the Resurrection). Though they may not have been the most influential men of Bethlehem, they soon understood their value in God's eyes. Are you someone who is blessed to know how precious you are to God, whether or not other people regard you as special?

The Wise Men. They travelled a great distance in search of truth. They made at least one serious mistake along the way, asking Herod where to find the new King—a mistake that could have cost them their lives. But they found the King they were looking for, and laid everything at his feet. After that, clear guidance from God changed their direction. Has your life journey been difficult? Have you made mistakes along the way, but finally arrived at the truth? Has your direction changed since you met the Saviour?

The innkeeper. He tried to do what seemed right. He gave the poor couple some space. How was he to know what was happening? The King of glory arrived in human flesh on his property. Did he see the star or hear the angels or catch sight of the worshipping shepherds? Or was he just a tired workingman who went to bed and slept through it all, missing the most glorious scene of the ages? Are you in danger of missing out on all that God has to offer you because you are too busy with the mechanics of life?

Perhaps you and I have played several, or even all, of these roles at one point or another in our lives. Musing over this may make the men and the woman of the Nativity seem more real to us. Considering how God spoke to and moved through them during that first Christmas may revitalize the old story in our hearts.

How should we then respond? We'll still deck the halls and bake seasonal treats. We'll exchange gifts and watch Miracle on 34th Street. But let's remember that it is Christmas. On this celebration of the birth of Christ, God seeks to move in our lives and bless us mightily, just as he did the lives of those present at the actual birth. May that truth make your heart merry and may you respond to God's work in your life with great joy.

Major Amy Reardon and her husband, Rob, are the corps officers of Seattle Temple Corp in Washington, U.S.A. This is the last column of her series, and we are grateful for her contribution to Salvationist.


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