The first one was in November with six ladies. After the readings and the music ended, nobody left. We all sat and voiced what God spoke and ways to make the Christmas season more meaningful. It was as if the dam broke and with a safe audience we could admit that Christmas had gotten way off track.
The last one was with 65 women, women I felt I knew well just by being in their same shoes a long while ago. Leaders, surely worn weary from ministry all fall. It was the 11th of December and I knew they were eager to tackle their Christmas lists, shop for children, bake something, go to a party, put up the tree. I wondered how many would, like me back then, realize on December 25th there had hardly been a thought of the Christ Child.
In between there were 5 others. Groups of all sizes, different settings – a long table at a grocery store, a candle lit chapel, a glorious piano concert, a band. And me quietly reading the six cameos spanning from the Intertestamental Period between Malachi and Matthew all the way through to the wise men. I looked out on wise women. I saw tears and heard prayers and felt joy.
It changed my Christmas. I took away something different from each group and each venue, but the golden thread that wove through each spelled one word: simplicity. I noticed over and again, each time fresh, there was no fanfare in God announcing His Son to the world. Gabriel slipped in quietly from heaven with messages for Zechariah and Mary. Mary pensively hurried to join Elizabeth. John was born amidst his father’s silence. Shepherds were tending sheep. It wasn’t until the Shekinah Glory appeared and the heavens opened up in rejoicing that the announcement got noisy.
For the first time in too long a time, I noticed the baby. I started noticing every baby. Even today in Bible study when a baby started crying, I smiled, remembering at one event telling the mother that if there ever was a time a baby’s cry was welcome, it was at Come to the Manger.
Come to the Manger blessed my life. Not because I wrote it but because God gave it to me as a gift. I did Christmas a little differently and next year I’ll do it a little more differently and again the next as I learn to worship instead of stress.
There are a few kinks to iron out, a few ideas to put in place, some decisions to be made. By mid summer Come to the Manger will be ready for its 2019 roll out.
Be on the lookout. I want to share the blessing with you!