Nothing gets me into the spirit of Christmas like a nativity. Especially a live nativity like the production "The Gift" at Langston Baptist Church. No doubt it is a fine reenactment of the first Christmas. Complete with live animals, realistic props and costumes. Even a real baby portrays Jesus. I remember as a kid getting to play Joseph in a smaller version. How excited I was to land a leading role in a small country church. How easy it is to act out the part of characters of the bible in those touching tender moments. Maybe a little too easy. Amidst the oohs and the awes it easy to miss the real struggles the characters of the first nativity. Mary an unwed teenager, pregnant with the only hope for mankind. Joseph, taking on the role of protection and provider of God. What an awesome responsibility to carry and raise the messiah. Gabriel, who was entrusted with the most awesome message ever known to man, had the enormous task of convincing Mary and Joseph. There is the seemingly insignificant animals. God chose to create them before man, to witness the birth of man. Here they witness the most significant birth of God's only son. The angles announcing to shepherds, a savior is born, meant drop what you are doing, find and worship Him. The angels left their home and asked the shepherds to leave their only livelihood. Although biblical timing suggest the wise men came later, no nativity is complete with out them or the star they follow to a greater light. They remind us, of the great journey it took just to present their gifts and how we should offer our best to Christ. The Christ child, the source of all power in the universe reduced to a baby. Then there is the the unseen character, never mentioned but of most importance to the story. Chosen from the foundation of the world that character is you. (Ephesians 1:4) Christmas is all about God's plan to rescue you.
Wise men of today still follow Bethlehem's star but instead of a manger they find an empty tomb. Instead of a child they find a friend. Like the wise men, after your encounter with Christ, you too will travel on a different road. A road to more difficult scenes of Christ's life. The scenes of His sacrifice and service to others promoting peace on earth and goodwill toward men. A road that will have you in the shadow of the cross, portraying Christ's life beyond the manger.