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The Nativity Stage is Set

Writing proved good therapy yesterday as it lifted my blues and allowed me to pick up the pieces of my day; as soon as the post was published, my husband and I bundled up in our coats and hats.  Then we walked west to visit this year’s Mesta Park tour homes.

The homes were well-staged.  Everywhere I looked I found some little treasure, some little historical detail that had survived who know’s how many owners to share their hundred year old story.  And of course, the homes were dressed in their holiday finest.

But as nice as the homes were, it’s always good to come through my own front door.  I walk in through the small vestibule to see it all with fresh eyes;  immediately, I spot the greenery that covers my banister.  Then my eye falls on the unadorned tree.

Not quite a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree, our ten-year old artificial tree is small in stature.  Four feet from top to bottom.  Most of our ornaments, purchased to dress a nine-foot tree, don’t even make it out of the basement anymore.   First priority goes to all the decorations made by our children when they were little boys and girls.  Any remaining space goes to ornaments that tell stories about our lives — people, places and events.

This ornament made by Kara’s six-year old hand always get a choice spot.  After all, the little glitter paper star  tells the story behind Christmas itself.  Love is the star of the Christmas story.  From beginning to end, Christmas is about love.

God loves Kara.  God loves me.  God loves you.  It boggles our mind that this should be so, for Lord knows,  there’s nothing that we can do or say to deserve it.  And little Kara is so obviously confused about this message of love.  A nice teacher probably wrote the story in big and bold red letters, as teachers everywhere are known to do.  But little Kara working in blue highlighter can’t quite get her writing hand around the message.

“Kara God loves Kara,” my six-year old child writes.  What was Kara trying to say?  Was it Kara loves God?  Or was she trying to repeat God loves Kara in her own hand, like one who writes a teacher’s words over and over until the lesson sticks.  Or  is it that God’s love begins and ends with Kara?  And me?  And you?   Whichever it is, just like Kara, we stumble and stutter for the right words and actions to express God’s love, only to have it come out all jumbled.  Lost in translation.

No matter what Kara intended to say, the red pen was right in pronouncing that God loves Kara.  And had we been in that classroom, we would have made stars that told the story that God loves you and I.   This is the ancient love story that was handed down to me and was handed down to whoever my storyteller was… and so on, all the way back to St. John himself, who doesn’t bother with the likes of a nativity story or wise men or shepherds or this bit about there being no room in the inn.

Instead John starts his story all the way back to the beginning of time and says Jesus Christ was there.  And then he rattles around a bit, perhaps a little confused and dazed by all of God’s love just like my six-year old Kara was until FINALLY, John writes a verse that even a six year old can memorize:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his own son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

And this is John’s Christmas story in a nutshell.  John sets his gospel stage with love.  And he leaves the rest of the story, and even the story itself, to the likes of us.

If I were six, I might tell the story better.