|With Jesus as Lord, we share His Love|
This year, I let some of the grandchildren set up the Nativity scene on the dining room table. They placed Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus in a close family group, as I always do, the adults peering down, adoring the new baby in the manger, but they did something different, too.
When I place those figurines, Mary and Joseph are one on each side of the manger, the Baby between them. I arrange them as if for a family portrait, all facing the same direction, the doorway from the living room through which we most often enter the room. But the grandchildren didn't do that.
Instead, they placed Mary and Joseph, side by side on the same side of the manger, completely blocking the view of the Baby in the manger. And instead of their faces, Mary and Joseph's backs are what you see when you walk into the room.
At first, the urge to rearrange the figures was strong, after all, the children hadn't arranged them "correctly." However, since it would be a while before the children would visit again, I decided to wait until they went home, thinking it was unlikely they would notice my meddling the next time they came. That would save hurt feelings, I thought, and it wouldn't interfere too much with their artistic choices. How kind and considerate of me, huh? Whatever.
But a couple of the children spent the night and were here throughout the next day, so my rearranging was delayed. During that time something began to happen as I walked in and out of that room, looking, for the first time at the backs of the kneeling Mary and Joseph instead of at their faces. I began to see things I'd never seen before.
Beneath the drape of Mary's blue garment, can be seen the shape of her heel. How humanizing! Seeing that, I thought, for the first time of her feet and of the roads she'd had to walk, both literally and figuratively. Personally, as someone who's recently had to visit a podiatrist for foot pain, I began to feel Mary's pain in a new, specific, day-to-day way. The way of weary, aching feet.
And there is Joseph, holding up his lantern between them, lighting, not only a dark stable as I'd always thought of it in the past, but lighting the way for his bride and the Savior of the world. Imagine that! Joseph, a common carpenter of no great renown, was given the responsibility of lighting the way, both literally and figuratively, for the Light of the world who was, for a time, in the form of a vulnerable, helpless baby. Looking at the back of Joseph's weary arm each time I walked into the room, I began to feel the weight of this for him in a new way.
And the Christ Child? What about him? In this particular arrangement, He is hidden entirely from view by the figures of Mary and Joseph. To see Him in the manger, you have to come close and lean in to look over the bowed heads of Mary and Joseph. In other words, you have to seek Him. Intentionally. Every time. Come close and lean in.
And I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive. Keep on seeking and you will find, keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 10: 9-10
"And a little child shall lead them," the book of Isaiah says. Yes, indeed. Needless to say, I have not rearranged the Nativity! I am treasuring, instead, this new, enriched narrative my grandchildren's arrangement has allowed me to see. I invite you to seek Him, too. Come close. Lean in. May everyone who asks, seeks, and knocks be blessed with a new, "through a child's eyes" experience of Christmas this year.