We know the scene: the room, variously furnished, almost always a lecturn, a book; always the tall lily. Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings, the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering, whom she acknowledges, a guest. But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions courage.
This weekend, I was walking around an outdoor shopping plaza basking in the glow of the Christmas lights, the bright décor and yes snow. Imagine my shock when I walked out of the movie theatre and there were snow flurries in the air. I had spent the majority of my life in Minnesota and moved to Florida a number of years ago to avoid the snow, ice and freezing temperatures. However, seeing the snowflakes dancing in the air, mixing with the festive glow of the lights, which reflected softly on the shoppers, was a fun and nostalgic time. Just like the Christmas song that played overhead exclaiming, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for Christians, this season is the most wonderful time of the year as we prepare for the birth of the Christ child.
Christmas is in full swing and most everyone has finished decorating for the holidays. Every year the manger scene is displayed on lawns, greeting cards, in church sanctuaries, and on tree ornaments. Most often we see the Virgin Mary wearing a pretty blue headscarf lying softly over her lily-white gown. Joseph is a robust tall man wearing a beard and is holding a staff as he leans over Mary and the baby Jesus. The babe is wrapped in a soft white blanket with his arms and feet lifted in the air as his lips purse in a sweet knowing smile. Just like the song, Away in the Manger, farm animals are close at hand while shepherds kneel at the babe’s feet. To complete the scene is a winged angel resting loftily above and somewhere there is a star placed high in the sky that shines brightly over the whole scene. This scenario is something that most of us take for granted each year when we celebrate Christ’s birth. However, I think that this scene has been sanitized so much so we have lost the significance of what really happened on that very extraordinary night.