I hope that by now you’ve recognized many little cracks of joy – perhaps even delegated scribe’s work to a family member so you won’t easily forget any of them. This would help bring credence to saying Happy Birthday to Jesus and help you go all out to celebrate His life and death as God’s great gift to mankind.
Sadly, posting a little sign in the front yard that says Happy Birthday, Jesus doesn’t guarantee that our Savior is the family’s focus this month. I suggest that the time honored custom of displaying a crèche is one effective way to make this happen.
With figures that are sturdy enough for even little hands to handle, setting up the crèche can be a wonderful all-family activity. Let volunteers tell the appropriate part of the story as you go. For instance the donkey with Mary and Joseph can journey to the scene – say from the kitchen? – before they are placed in their setting. Someone can explain what a manger is and why this made a good place for the newborn King to rest. Using your family members’ talents makes the events as Luke told them come alive just as vividly as anything technology offers.
Perhaps you’ll break the experience up into several sessions so there’s time for discussion and sharing – and wondering. Once Joseph and Mary are comfortable in the animal shelter, you could wait a bit to portray the dramatic angel appearance to shepherds and their sheep. You might even set up a second scene at another time in another part of the room for this until you put the men in place, breathless from running and overcome with the discovery they make in Bethlehem.
And, to be accurate to the New Testament account, you’ll want a third scene in another part of your home where the Wise Men’s journey ends at a house, most likely in Jerusalem. We normally put emphasis on the Magi’s gifts. Let someone do research and share how each gift was valuable to Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Perhaps on Christmas Eve – or morning – you could jump for joy like the shepherds to a recorded Christmas carol or kneel like the wise men, each one ready to offer his gift to Jesus. Instead of gold and other precious items, yours will most likely be invisible – promises of ways you want to serve the Lord in the coming year.
Of course, many of us know this is just the beginning, but it brings relevance to the Christmas story if each of us takes time to choose a character and imagine we are part of what happened. Craft items and art work that creates pictures enhance the experience. Some hide the baby Jesus figurine until Christmas morning and enjoy journeying throughout the house to find the Babe and put Him in the manger.
Won’t you share some of your Christmas discoveries with your family over the years?