Crowding the manger

Do you have a nativity scene in your house? We do. It’s a Precious Moments scene that includes several figurines – baby Jesus in a manger, Mary, Joseph, a shepherd, a bale of hay, a donkey, and three sheep. The whole thing is covered by a roof with a yellow star attached to its peak. We keep it in our living room, either on the subwoofer or on the coffee table. The trouble with the subwoofer is that sometimes the figurines vibrate off of it when we turn up the music. The trouble with the coffee table is that sometimes the figurines get crowded with coffee cups, pens, schoolwork, a remote control, the church bulletin, spare change, and Christmas cards.

My OCD tendencies keep wanting to clear away the stuff crowding the nativity display. I want it to look pristine and perfect. It reminds us of the true reason for the season after all, right?

I once read something in a magazine where the writer also discovered things from everyday life cluttering her family’s nativity scene, but she resisted the urge to whisk all intruding items away and restore the scene to tidy perfection. She saw how work, play, and relationships were all represented in the items laid there at Jesus’ stable. Yes, it may have looked messy, but if Jesus was so bothered by messes, he probably would not have been born in a smelly stable. Jesus was not born into perfect circumstances, so maybe I need to ease up on my perfectionist tendencies and come again to the Savior, the one who is “gentle and humble in heart” and find rest for my soul.

At that point I may hear Jesus invite me to lay even more things down before him. My cell phone. My calendar. My family photos. My TV remote. My shopping list. My checkbook. “Lay it at my feet,” he might say, inviting me to keep him and his priorities at the center of my life rather than at the periphery. Then I’ll find a kind of rest that my attempts to keep everything pristine and perfect never provide.

I wrote this for the Rock Valley Bee and noted how I love seeing the nativity scenes set up in people’s yards and at Lights Around the Bend.


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