When one of our granddaughters was four years old, she and Ray and I drove from our town to another little town for their Christmas festival. On our way, we passed a small house with a nativity in the yard, but we passed too quickly for her to see it. She was disappointed, but we assured her that we could get a good look at it when we returned.
On our way home, we slowed down but still couldn’t see it well. We pulled into the driveway, but she still couldn’t see it from her car seat.
Finally, she and I climbed out of the car in this stranger’s driveway and walked over to the stable, where we saw a figure representing Baby Jesus, lying in a wire manger. Mary and Joseph knelt behind the manger. Two sheep, a cow, and a donkey sat on bales of hay in the back of the stable. A star covered with foil and duct tape stood above it. Wise men stood close by.
The figures were very old. Though still pretty, the paint was wearing off; and some were cracked a little.
As we enjoyed the scene, an elderly gentleman came out of the house. He told us that we should see it at night when it was lit up. He also invited us inside, telling us that they had even more lights inside. Thankful for the kind invitation, I declined. As we drove home, I thought about this aged man. I wondered when he had purchased his lighted nativity. I wonder now when he built the stable, how many years he had faithfully set it up in his yard, and how he had managed that year to set it up again.
He reminds me of a line from “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.” This beautiful hymn is attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux who is said to have written it in Latin in 1153. James W. Alexander translated it into English in 1830. As I think of that elderly country gentleman, I remember the sixth verse:
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.
By displaying and lighting his antique nativity scene along a country road, this man faithfully showed his love for Jesus. In that faithful gesture, he proclaimed the Lord whom the shepherds proclaimed. Thank you for proclaiming Him to your children. This verse from Colossians reminds us why we do.
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man
and teaching every man with all wisdom,
so that we may present every man complete in Christ.