Last night, about 60 of my teens and adults caravan -ed to Chickasha, Oklahoma to attend a youth rally and then go see the Chickasha Christmas lights. We were late getting to the church building, had more kids arrive than I was expecting and scrambled to find transportation. We got there safely! More importantly, our kiddos had a good time. I am thankful for our kids and the adults who are willing to drop everything in a moment’s notice to drive a church van or a personal vehicle!
One of things that I enjoyed about last night at the park was the addition of a live nativity scene/ re-enactment. It was neat. The actors were prepared, they knew their movements and parts well. There was a small crowd of on-lookers though, and at times other park patrons unaware of the retelling of the most significant event in human history were threatening to impede the re-enactments unfolding. I think that is what is most profound was the general lack of awareness. I know a small retelling of the birth of Jesus doesn’t require a large crowd, but seeing the story retold in dramatic fashion amongst the backdrop of reality hit me hard last night.
God became a vulnerable, new born infant. And many in Jesus’ day were unaware. The shepherds knew, the wise men knew, and even Herod knew something significant happened. But many others missed it. I think for a lot of us that are supposed to know our lines and parts in our own stories we miss the wonder of this Immanuel-moment all too often. We miss the significance of Christmas when we are more concerned about Black Friday Deals then we are about the homeless man sleeping in the cold again. I think we miss the importance of Christmas when we more concerned about where to put our Christmas decorations than about the families on the other side of the rail road tracks who are struggling to even buy food, let alone gifts. I think we miss the magic of Christmas when we complain about whether or not our churches are going to have even meet on Christmas Day than about living out the incarnational mission in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, etc.
After the live nativity was over, the actors who played the shepherds invited the crowd to come pet the animals and see the baby Jesus. I misunderstood her and thought she invited us to see the animals and pet the baby Jesus. I think that is how most of us operate though, unsure what to do in the presence of this story. Do we pause to consider that the babe in the manger grows up to be the man on the cross? Babies aren’t threatening, are they? This one is. No longer can the status quo remain, our very lives are called in to question. What and who are living for? The birth of the God-man is the continuation of the unfolding drama of God’s great reclamation effort to restore humanity and the divine to Edenic peace that once permeated all of creation. For all our failings and steps away from Eden, God’s great love is such that He enters the human condition and begins to move humanity back towards Eden.