I don’t know when or why I started collecting nativity sets. Apart from books, I’m not a collector of anything, but over the years I’ve acquired nativity sets from all over the world. Many reflect the ethnic and cultural diversities of the countries from which they have come. Some reflect the craftsmanship of the skilled or amateur creators of the pieces in my collection.
At first I would unpack my nativity sets every year and include them as a part of our Christmas decorations. But then the collection got a little too big and getting them all out took too much time. So every December I started pulling out a few at random, displaying these, and keeping the rest packed away. This year the nativity sets are all packed away. The Christmas decorations are in storage along with our furniture until we move into a new residence in a few weeks.
On this early Christmas morning when these words are being written, I’ve been thinking how often Jesus gets pushed out of our celebrations. We acknowledge that this is a time of year to commemorate his birth and give thanks. But like those nativity sets, he gets packed away behind the clutter and hyperactivity. We want to have Jesus at some place in our families, lives and careers but for various reasons he is nowhere to be seen. Sometimes people like me drive for success, obsess over meeting the expectations, ethics and often picky rules of our professions, but too often forget that we are followers of Jesus. Where do Jesus go?
My wife and I rarely send out Christmas letters but this year we did. What we mailed to a few friends applies equally to you who read these newsletters. Here is a part of what we wrote:
Most who read this note identify as followers of Jesus Christ. To you, we send our warmest best wishes for a Christ-honoring Christmas as we celebrate the Savior’s birth. To our friends who believe differently we wish you the peace that comes from Christ and are glad that you, too, can celebrate this joyful holiday that began as a Christian celebration. To all of you we send our greetings and good wishes for a happy new year. We are glad we can keep in touch like this.