Thursday, December 22, 2016

How to Share a Simple Nativity Devotion

I love surprises. And I received a very blessed surprise at a women’s Christmas gathering a couple of weeks ago.

One of the women on our ministry leadership team is a walking Pinterest app when it comes to ideas. Seriously. When someone on our team says, “We should _____,” Conni immediately responds with 2-3 amazing ideas on how to make it happen. Our meetings are a lot of fun, to be sure.

As we planned our women’s gathering and began to discuss providing a Christmas devotion, it didn’t surprise me a lick when she shared an idea. On the evening of the event, the devotion went off without a hitch. That didn’t surprise me either.

The surprise is that I am still meditating on the devotion, weeks later.  I continue to think through our simple, easy discussion. It’s glory and wonder still linger in my heart and mind.

I’ll share with you what we did. This is a great idea to use in your family gatherings this Christmas. The idea originated from Conni’s years as a middle school teacher, so it's easily doable with all ages. I’ll also share my continued musings if you’ll be so kind as to indulge me in that.

The Nativity Devotion 

We joined together and sat around a Nativity scene that was set out as a Christmas decoration. Conni wrote the individual elements of the Nativity set on slips of paper that she put them into a bowl. Then we each drew one of the slips. For example, on the slips were written:  Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Manger, Livestock, 3 Kings, The Star, etc.

Our group then took turns sharing – very basically – our understanding about the significance of the piece that was on our slip of paper. No one was consulting Scripture. We didn't over-intellectualize. We just spoke from the heart and shared either what we’d learned in the past, or musings that developed as we talked. I’d drawn Jesus, so it was easy to share what He means to me and the importance of a baby in a manger that Christmas morning.  Another woman drew the word “Livestock.” Surely that was a little more difficult, yet when it was her turn to speak, what she shared blessed us all.

The beauty of this devotion is its simplicity. Sometimes we overcomplicate spiritual things, forgetting the wonder and amazement of this pure, holy, and uncluttered scene.

My Simple Reflection

As I mentioned, I’ve continued to ponder the characters and elements of the manger scene for a few weeks. Thanks for allowing me a few moments to share my heart.  In the comments section, or on Facebook or Twitter, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. What significance do you consider as you meditate on the meaning of each feature of this glorious scene? We know God is not wasteful. Each component had reason and importance. Join me in slowing down and contemplating the joy and wonder of that first Christmas . . .

Jesus: As I consider our Savior, what strikes me each Christmas is his name, Emmanuel. It means “God with us.” This was a choice for Him – to leave His throne, His royal position, His heavenly dwelling, and live on earth as first an infant, then a growing boy, and then as a man who would give His life for us. His desire for relationship resonates. He wants to be with me. With you. Revel in that with me.

Mary: She was willing. When the angel disclosed God’s plan for her, she replied, “let it be as you have said.” Would I have responded with such trust and faith? Nothing about Mary or her life was ever the same. She surrendered all she was to follow God’s lead. May I have a similar willingness to follow Him.

Joseph: His trust was not immediate, but it did finally come. Joseph faced a profound trial and a crossroads: leave and protect himself, or stand firm and endure scorn, questions, and ridicule. He chose to trust God when things were most difficult. He stood firm. Help me, Lord, to stand with you and trust – even when life is difficult.

The Shepherds: The angel said, “Come and see.” And so they did. When God called, they responded, leaving behind their work and tasks. I’m a task-oriented person, so I fear I often miss God’s invitations through my busyness. Help me, Lord, to respond each time you summon. Father, give me ears to hear and the willingness to engage.

The Kings: They searched for Jesus in the sky and found Him through a star. Where do we search? Are we even looking? God is in everything and will reveal Himself to us wherever we look. Will we, too, have eyes to see? Lord, reveal yourself to those who seek You this Christmas.

The Donkey:  A donkey is “a beast of burden,” used to carry heavy loads. The heavy load that this donkey carried was a young woman with child. What a privilege. Jesus, as our Protector and Provider offers to carry our burdens. Lord, give me the willingness to accept Your help. You promise to bear the burden of my struggle if I will allow it. Thank you.

The Angel:  A messenger of great news, accompanied by a multitude of heavenly host who praised God. They were sent ones. A gift from God above who had news to share. He didn’t want us to miss this news, so He sent the angel to proclaim great joy for all the people. All. The. People. Help us, Lord, to not keep this good news to ourselves, but to share it with others.

The Manger:  Mary gave birth to Jesus in a barn because there was no room for them in the inn. Do we have room for Jesus in our own hearts? Will we allow Him in? I pray we will – during this Christmas and forevermore.

Merry Christmas, my friends. May God make His face to shine upon you and give you great peace.



1 comment:

  1. Loved this powerful message! THANK YOU for your obedience and willingness to share, Cathy! You are a Blessing!