By Todd E. Brady
Vice president for University ministries, Union University, Jackson
Decorating for Christmas is a fun and meaningful event. Among the children, there is excitement as ornaments and decorations which were forgotten throughout the year are pulled from the attic and remembered again. Certain ornaments are special to certain people in the family and must only be put up by them.
For us, there’s that unique ornament made from a red pepper from that trip out to New Mexico. The paintings from Ethiopia are great. Then, there’s that special ornament made by a boy in the first grade — an ornament made from a paper plate and red tissue paper commemorating the Passover.
I am finding that the best decorations are not those which cost the most money but are those that were made by those who are most special to us. We wouldn’t take a million dollars for the fingerpainting prints done by the little boys years ago.
Each year, we add new picture ornaments of each boy to the garland on the kitchen window. With 5 boys, the oldest of whom is 17, we hung 68 ornaments on the garland this year. Needless to say, we’ve got more ornaments than we have garland. We are blessed.
Of all the decorations, I most enjoy getting the wooden nativity from the attic and setting it up in the yard. Made a few years ago by Grandad in his shop, this nativity captures both the simplicity and the profundity of Christmas. The nativity is made of just four wooden figures — Joseph, Mary a baby and a sheep.
Several years ago, when Miller was about 4 or 5 years old, we were driving down our street at Christmas time. Knowing that Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, and a sheep were in our front yard, Miller reminded us all that “Our house is the one with the Activity in the yard!”
I never think about that Nativity the same now. For me, it will always be an Activity.
Truth often comes from the mouths of babes. Really, Activity is a good description of that scene in our front yard. It’s a scene depicting the Activity of God.
We are told that when “the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4). From eternity past, God sent his Son into the world. Immanuel, God with us. When Jesus was born, God was not above his people. He was not beside his people. He was not in front of his people. He was with his people.
God did not expect that we would come to him. He came to us. That is why we celebrate Christmas. God has come to us.
We remind ourselves of God’s Activity and those who anticipated the coming of the Messiah when we sing, “O come, O come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appear, Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel, Shall come to thee, O Israel.”
We remind ourselves of God’s Activity and the fact that Jesus has indeed been born when we sing, “God rest ye merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay, Remember, Christ, our Saviour was born on Christmas day.” For the believer, these are surely tidings of comfort and joy!
We remind ourselves of God’s Activity and the fact that God will again send Jesus back into the world when we sing, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found.”
Yes, Miller, everyone calls it a Nativity, but really it’s an Activity. The Activity of God. B&R