I've had the occasion to get caught up on my BookBub downloads recently. The first book I've been reading is "Finding Christmas" with many short stories. My intentions were to read this leisurely during the Christmas season, but my decisions to do many things with my time instead kept me from even opening the first page.
One story in particular that I read last week has really stuck in my mind. I may be writing about this again in December, when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
This story about 'Finding Christmas' was written by a father about his pre-teen daughter. They are getting ready for Christmas in their church, which includes the annual Christmas play by children and teens. The director wants the scenery to be as life-like as possible, so asks this family to bring in manure from their barn. Yes, manure in the sanctuary. She wants it to be on hay in the "manger" and on the costumes of the animals and the shepherds.
"Why can't I be Mary? Why do I have to be in this at all? Why does she have to make this so real? Is it really going to matter if the props are actual things?" These were the questions that the teen girl was firing off to her father on the way home from the first practice.
Once at home, she went about feeding the chickens and noticed that there were feathers all over the coop, and very few eggs. She brought her concern to her dad, telling him that there was something getting into the chickens, so they set a box trap.
One evening close to Christmas, still frustrated with having to be the one who brought the authentic "props" for the Christmas play, she went outside to be alone, and went into the chicken coop to check on them. To her surprise there was an animal in the trap. She was happy to know they had finally caught the culprit, but then changed her point of view because the animal was "sooooo cute."
How could something so cute, who was probably hungry, be the bad guy? How could something so cute be a killer? Here he was in the barn with all the other animals, one of God's own creation, but he was not welcome there.
Jesus was born in humble surroundings, into a world that was ready to be saved but not ready to accept a child as their king.
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we welcome him into our homes and lives with great excitement and festivities. But in March we are not as excited nor are we holding such colorful festivities; because it is during this time, the time of Lent, that we realize that the Savior was born into a world of sin. And like this story, the very people that were part of Jesus' close friends, were out for themselves, and though they looked authentic, and acted like they loved him, they were against him.
During this season of Lent - the 40 days we focus on Jesus' walk to the cross and our unworthiness of his sacrifice - let us take a moment to:
- remember the Savior we celebrate at Christmas
- remember he walked among us
- remember our sinfulness - like that animal in the cage, we can be cute but cunning
Yes, we can find Christmas in March. It is my prayer that you will take some time to think about Christmas, the joy of Jesus, and the awesome sacrifice he made for each of us who call him Lord.