I realized yesterday that I did not take my kids to see a living nativity scene. While it is now the Christmas season, generally the living nativity scenes are organized during Advent – and this year we just didn’t get around to going to see one.
I do like going to see them. The kids decked out in their wise men gear, the hay, straw and livestock. It is always the livestock that really makes it for me. It is quite possibly because I most easily resonate with being a stubborn ass.
But it is ironic, isn’t it? The living nativity. They dress the part and stand perfectly still. We drive by looking for all that is familiar and we miss it. We are the living nativity. We are Bethlehem that is just too full and busy to house this pregnant woman. We are the stable that God the Father finds fitting for the birth of His Son.
He seeks the stable of our souls, but we lock Him out and instead show Him to the Spiritual Study in our lives. We show Him to the room with spiritual books, bible classes and spiritual resumes.
He is unafraid of the filth in our lives. The stench of sin in the dark caves of our hearts is where He wants to embrace us, but our arrogance keeps Him from ever coming close.
It is the store room in the basement. The room filled with things I don’t know where to put and others I know exactly where to put, I am just lazy. I keep it closed and with a baby lock on the outside from when our kids were younger – no one is to enter here. It is full of crap, completely disorganized and just too much to tackle.
The basement in our hearts is similar; stuffed with things we don’t know what to do with and others we just don’t want to deal with. That old wound still hurts. That wound that whispers to me that I am nothing but a whimp to let this old, little misunderstanding still bother me.
It is home to the shame I feel for pushing my kids way too hard at such a young age, being overly critical or hurting another with my prideful words. There is so much in there, too much actually.
It is in the midst of that mess that He wishes to embrace me, but I point Him to other cleaner, more organized rooms in my life. This nudge to open the door in the basement of my heart won’t go away. It is gentle and soft, but ever present.
It is that door He asks us to open each Advent. It is here that He wishes to be born anew each Christmas bringing light to the darkness and dispelling all fear. It is here in the chaos and stables of our souls that He reminds us how much He trusts us to carry the truth, to bring light into the lives and hearts of others, by beginning with ourselves.
We work so hard to ensure our homes smell like cinnamon and egg nog during Christmas. During Advent, we work so hard to ensure the living nativities are perfectly staged and everyone has the perfect costume and knows exactly where to stand. These are good and beautiful ways to recognize and celebrate the liturgical seasons. But we must pray that we are given eyes to see what God seeks to enter into – it is not the holiday scented candles. He wants to come into the shame, the chaos and the darkness. He wants us to stop dressing the part and standing perfectly still. He wants us to stop covering the stench of animal manure with cinnamon and egg nog. He wants us to give Him free reign in all parts of our lives and not lock Him in our Spiritual Study.
Father, this Christmas season give us eyes to see the living Nativity. Be the light in the darkness and restore order to chaos.