17 December 2019
Each Christmas I enjoy setting up our nativity scene at home. It’s a small one, made of banana leaves and I bought it several years ago from a woman’s co-operative in Kampala, Uganda. It brings back memories of a group of women working hard to sustain a living and to provide a better future for their children.
All the characters from the nativity are in the box, beautifully handmade, and I set them up on a side table – the shepherds, the wise men, Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, a couple of sheep and a donkey. All the people and animals that we see in our nativity plays in schools this week up and down the region.
But I wonder if you have ever imagined what it would have been like to have been there – the reality of the stable that night in an insignificant town called Bethlehem where the Saviour of the World was born.
Imagine you were Mary – a young girl, perhaps not much more than 14 or 15 – giving birth in a stable where the animals lived, after a long and arduous journey to get there. Not exactly the birth plans we draw up today. Joseph had stood by her and was there at her side that night. But what did the future look like. What did it really mean that she was giving birth to the Son of God?
Mary had lots of questions and very few answers at this time – but what she had was a beautiful baby boy and a sense that God would show her the way forward, giving her a deep peace.
May you know that same peace this Christmas
18 December 2019
I have a beautiful nativity scene at home which was made by women in Uganda from banana leaves. Each year as I set it up, I wonder about all the characters there and what the reality was for them that night in a stable in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.
I’ve got 2 shepherds along with their sheep – one of the sheep has got slightly wonky legs but we can still balance him up so he stands.
We read in the bible that the shepherds were out on the field ensuring their flocks were safe from wild animals. As they worked they were aware of a light in the sky and a host of angels singing. ‘Go to Bethlehem’ they said, ‘where you will find the Saviour of the World’. Not the normal night’s work then! And so they went down the hillside, found the stable which had a star shining above it and inside they met a mother and father and new born baby. They bowed down and worshipped because they knew this was no ordinary baby – this was the Son of God.
I often wonder what the shepherds did when they got back to their homes. Imagine the conversation over breakfast. ‘Good night at work, dear?’ ‘Yes, Harry was late as usual, Tom brought us some sandwiches, oh and we met a host of angels who told us to go to Bethlehem where we met the Son of God’! Whatever life held for them, nothing would ever be the same again – that night, a group of unsuspecting shepherds came face-to-face with Jesus and they went home rejoicing.
May you know that joy this Christmas
19 December 2019
My Ugandan nativity set at home has 3 regal wise men each wearing a crown. They are often seen with a camel and of course, each carry a gift. The bible doesn’t actually tell us how many men came to visit Jesus but does say that they came to Jerusalem from the East. These men would have been experts in the stars at night – they had maps and plotted the movements in the sky. They had observed the rising of a new star and understood its great importance– it meant the birth of a new king and so they wanted to follow it to pay him homage. Not surprisingly they went to Jerusalem because that was where a king would reside. How strange then for them to realise that this king was not living in splendour in a palace but was living humbly with a loving parents in a small village. What type of king was this?
Still following the star, they went to Bethlehem, where they knelt down and honoured Jesus, giving him gifts to recognise his status – gold, frankincense and myrrh.
How interesting that men from the East, from a different culture and religion, could see that Jesus was king. As he grew up and began his own ministry, those around him struggled to see the truth in this. And yet, soon after his birth, these travellers were able to recognise who he truly was. Their long journey had been worth it – they had reached their destination and found true meaning in what they had been searching for.
May you also find meaning this Christmas