Taking Christ out of Christmas...
X = the Unknown Factor...
Politically correct: Happy Holidays!
You've heard it all before. But Christmas two years ago, the rhetoric became real at our house. Christ was taken out.Doug's capable carpenter hands worked several seasons building a nativity scene. Finally complete, we set it out across our front yard.
The wind blew some pieces over, so he chained together the large plywood figures and staked them into the ground to secure them.
Every year my piano students perform Christmas music for their families at our annual Finger Food Festival. The party atmosphere is far more palatable that recital mode!
Decorations up, lights on, punch bowl filled.
Then just before everyone arrived, Doug came home and noticed, "Baby Jesus is gone!"
"Stolen I guess. Some of the other figures were flat on the ground, Kathy. I put them back up but the chain was broken where the manger was."
Startled and saddened, but with no time for either, I welcomed our houseful of students and guests.
"You may have noticed our scene out front is missing the Centerpiece..."
I went on to share that the world takes Christ out of Christmas, but we each face the choice about what we'll do with Him. The Unknown Factor does not have to remain unknown.
"Emmanuel means 'the strong God with us.' He wants a love relationship with you. If He's in your heart no one can take Him away."
Let the music begin! Delicious food was spread and shared. Guests left. Clean up time. The doorbell rang. Probably a student forgot something.
When I opened the door, a stranger in a suit and tie stood there holding the wooden Baby Jesus in both hands, offering it to me. I gasped and hugged the tall, black man. "Thank you! My goodness! What..."
My questions and his answers ran together in one waterfall conversation.
"I'm your neighbor a few streets back. This morning at 5:00 AM, I left Florence for my job in Charleston. Large pieces of white wood were strewn in the street in front of your house. They blocked my way. So when I got out of my car, I realized someone trashed your Nativity scene. I laid them back on your lawn. About a mile away I spotted something white in a ditch. It caught my eye because it looked like the same thing I just saw."
He explained that he pulled onto the shoulder, went to the ditch and lifted the manger. Knowing we were sound asleep, he placed it in the trunk of his car.
"I figured I'd bring it back to you after work. I'd have been late to work and wakened you this morning."
"Oh, that's fine! I'm just so glad you found it. Thank you. Thank you so much."
When I took it in and showed it to Doug, he was amazed and offered, "I can sand and repair the scuff marks."
"No. Let's leave it as is."
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him. And with his stripes we are healed..."
Our Prince of Peace. He came to save.
I didn't expect His return that day. Do you?