31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
December 24, 2018
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Each Advent, as we decorate our home for Christmas, I find it a special treat to put out each of my seven nativity sets. I started with a set I found half price after Christmas that looks like Russian peasants. Over the years, I’ve added a Peanuts cartoon one, one that is completely bears, and while visiting Chile, my parents bought me one that looks like indigenous South Americans.
While they are all very different, there is something about each one that appeals to me, that seems special. Far and away though, my favorite Nativity set is my Willow Tree one. I have all of the pieces, and I display them on top of the TV cabinet where there is plenty of space for each figure to be seen – and it is away from little hands and cat paws.
So imagine my surprise to come into the kitchen one morning and find a little rubber ducky and a plastic frog amongst the shepherds and magi.
Advent is a season of waiting and patience though so I gave my 6 year old two days to get his “treasures” off of my nativity set. I thought it showed great reserve on my part when I really wanted to call these cheap little toys something else.
And what did that little darling say to me? “Mommy, they are praying to Jesus.”
“Mommy, they are praying to Jesus.” As a Christian trying to share my love of God with my child and others, as a Pastor called to nurture other’s Christian faith journeys, how could I argue with that?! “Mommy, they are praying to Jesus.”
Two days later, the Nativity set had more guests. For Advent, my son has been opening a Tsum Tsum calendar. If you don’t know what those are, they are Disney characters in the shape of these little round balls. Super cute. This year, as the days of Advent have gone along, he has not only gotten new Tsum Tsum characters, they have also come with their own sleigh.
So of course the sleigh had to fly up to the rooftop of the TV cabinet and land right in front of baby Jesus.
A little more tolerate this day of the 6 year old standing on a chair pushed up to the nativity set so he could play with it, I asked him, “Are the Tsum Tsums praying to Jesus?”
And what did the little darling say to me? “No, Mommy, they are bringing him a gift.”
Thinking back to the Little Drummer Mouse story we had read the night before, I asked, “Are they bringing him a song?” “No, Mommy, they are bringing him themselves.”
“No, Mommy, they are bringing him themselves.”
So when my husband asked a few days later if he should evict the rather unusual inhabitants of the Nativity scene and give our son a stern talk about not touching Mommy’s special things, I told him no. I no longer minded the little rubber ducky, the plastic frog, or the sleigh pulled by Tsum Tsums – because each one of them was a reminder that my child was entering into the Christmas story and making it his own.
The beginning of the United Church of Christ constitution, which outlines the core beliefs of our faith community “affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God.”
We are invited, no, we are responsible for making this faith our own, for making God’s story our own, for entering in and experiencing God’s love and presence first hand.
Each generation is responsible for making this Christian faith our own; however too often we do not make God and God’s story our own. God and Jesus seem too holy, too far away, too hands off, too incomprehensible, which is why we stay at a distance, God and Jesus on one side and us on the other.
But this separation, this distance is the exact opposite of what the Christmas story is all about. “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us.” (Isaiah 9:6)
A child has been born for us, a son given to us. And where was this child born? In an every day run of the mill stable. And who did the angels first tell of the miraculous, amazing birth of the Christ child, God in human form? Ordinary people, shepherds. A child has been born for us, a son given to us.
The whole point of God coming in human form, God coming as a baby, a little child, was to be close to us, to be with us.
So enter into the story and make the good news your own. Get up on a chair and add yourself to God’s story. Better yet, take it down and enter into the good news.
Feel the love; feel the joy; know how true the words are that a child has been born for you, a son given to you, so that your life might know more joy; so that your world might know more peace; so that your heart might know more love.
Make this faith your own; make this story your own; make God’s love your own; for tonight, the Christ child has been born for you.