“You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12At my house, the nativity is an important part of our Christmas decorations. Each year I place several scenes around our house. Each has a distinct design and holds special memories. One is a gift from my mother, another I picked up while traveling. My favorite is a wooden creche that holds Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in a manger. When I look at the nativity with the shepherds and angels all around worshiping the baby king, I imagine this is how the first Christmas might have looked. It also reminds me that Jesus changes everything.
When my youngest son was a toddler he was especially drawn to the scene of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. I always placed the nativity on a table which that was the ideal height for my son to reach up and kidnap Jesus. Several times during the holidays, my son would snatch Jesus and hide him. No amount of treats or toys would be enough to pay the ransom for baby Jesus. The only thing that would persuade my son to return Jesus were the words, “We can’t have Christmas without Jesus.” In no time, Jesus would be returned to the manger and the scene would be changed. No questions asked, of course.Before baby Jesus was returned to the manger, the scene consisted of a man, a woman, and an empty food box. Once my son returned the baby Jesus, the scene changed. With Jesus the scene became a nativity. Others in the presence of Jesus were changed as well. Mary became the mother of the Son of God. She never speaks again in scripture after His birth. Jesus mentions her many times. In fact, on the cross, although He suffered immeasurable pain, Jesus was concerned for his mother telling John to care for her. Joseph was changed as well. According to law he could have abandoned Mary. He knew her expected child was not his. Instead, he obeyed God’s message from an angel and cared for Mary and raised Jesus as his own. Jesus changes everything. In the children’s book, A Tale of Three Trees, by Angela Elwell Hunt, three trees dream of becoming important in the world. One wants to be a mighty ship that carries kings across the seas. Another desires to be a treasure chest holding priceless jewels. The last wants to grow and stretch toward the heavens pointing toward God. A woodsman’s ax cuts down all three. The last tree is devastated for he is convinced he will never point toward God.The first tree is sad when he learns that he will not be a ship but a fishing boat instead. It is not until the first tree as a fishing boat carries a man across the sea in a storm that he is changed into a ship that carries kings. The second tree is also sad that his dream of being a treasure chest is dashed when he is made into a food trough for cattle. Not until he holds the baby Jesus does he realize his dream of holding treasure. The last tree never wanted to do anything but grow strong and tall and reach toward heaven. He was disgusted when he was cut into two beams and tossed in a pile. Until one day men threw the beams into the street and a man carried the tree to the top of a hill. There the man was nailed to the beams. That day the last tree was changed and became an everlasting symbol that points toward God. You see, Jesus changes everything.Are you changed?When Jesus enters our story we are changed. We go from being lost in darkness to living in light. We go from being ordinary to extraordinary. We go from being children to children of God. How can you be changed? A relationship with Jesus. It begins with faith in a risen Christ. Out of that faith you receive a love like you will never know on earth. Then a desire to seek Jesus through prayer and scripture are a result of knowing His vast love and faithfulness. Be changed. Father, Lord, praise You for Your power to change us and make us new creatures. Your love enters our lives and changes the course of our pursuits. With You we no longer desire the things of this world but yearn for a closer relationship with You. Enter our lives and change our hearts and make us to be more like You. Amen