I found me!
At the beginning of this month, J was in a Christmas program in our church. His role in the play was that of The Drummer. If you know the Little Drummer story, then you know that the drummer, as his gift to Christ, plays him a song.
Most nativity scene don’t feature the drummer. He’s certainly not literally biblical, so he’s not one of the “major” stars of the show. We have one nativity set whose designers must have been trying to win a “how many pieces can we include?” contest. This set even has two trees. Among its many figurines is a drummer boy.
Each of the many, many pieces is stored in its own little plastic bag. As we were assembling the nativity display shelf, I asked J to “de-bag” each piece. All of a sudden I heard, “I’m so happy! I found me!” He had found the drummer boy.
J is the one who arranged this set on the shelf, and the image with this post is of the drummer, Jesus and Mary. The drummer is front and center, playing his song for the child. I find the way he arranged all the pieces to be interesting as well. All umpteen figures are approaching the Christ, as if they have traveled a great distance, and are converging. Even the sheep, even the trees, are rushing forward.
Why did I ever think that my arrangements of these figures was better? J has brought God into even their placement on the shelves. A gift for me, born of the decision to surrender Christmas to God. No stress – no worries. Put the nativity figures however you like; I’m not worried about how they look. J did it, and I see God in it.
There is a teaching technique that many people like to use. Take a biblical account or a parable, and ask the students to examine each character. Which one is more like you? If you were a character in the story, which one would you be most like? This examination teaches us about ourselves, and helps us to see the story with eyes of depth.
So let’s do that for just a moment with the nativity story. Know that as I list the “players,” most of what I am going to say is from my imagination. Your own descriptions of them would be different.
When would you say, “I’ve found me!”
Are you Mary? Are you obedient? Are you willing to ignore your fear, your questions, your doubt, and just say, “Let it be for me according to your word.”?
Are you Joseph? Are you caught so tightly in the grip of what is honorable that it takes a visit from an angel to free you for service? Can you then, as Joseph did, find the grace to step beyond your own dreams for what might have been and accept the adventure of what God wills?
Are you a shepherd? Are you alone in a field, uncertain of your own worth, clinging to the one thing that gives you an identity – your job? Can you, when an angel appears and tells you that God is at work in the world, leave behind all that you value and follow a star to a child?
Are you a wise man? Are you so convinced of your own abilities and wisdom that you trust only in yourself? Can you place that to the side and greet God, certain as you do that you will find that your self-confidence was a sham, and that you truly do need God?
Are you an angel? Are you available to leave the wonderful comforts of heaven and travel to the sinful place called Earth? Do you take advantage of the opportunities you find to proclaim God’s word to those who must hear it in order to live?
Are you the drummer? Will you come to understand that you – yes, even you – have gifts that God has given to you? Will you trust God enough to share them?
Are you Mary’s parents? Are you heartbroken with disappointment when the dreams you had for your child seem to be shattered? Will you listen for God enough to trust him when you can’t possibly understand what is happening?
Are you Joseph’s parents? Are you willing to set aside your own certainty that you know what is right for your loved ones, and trust them enough to hear the angels on their own? And then watch with fear as they act on that knowledge?
Are you one of the villagers in Bethlehem? Are you standing in your house, going about your daily routine, missing the most earth-shattering event to ever occur in the history of mankind – the incarnation of God – right outside your window?
Are you John the Baptist? Did your tiny, young heart start to beat with a stronger rhythm when the first cry of the savior was heard to break into the noises of a stable?
Are you the stable-boy? Are you standing in your domain, regretting the mess that has been made by the new young family? Or are you willing to see past the dirty straw and trampled hay to find God at work? Do you joyfully pick up a pitchfork and prepare for service, or do you grumble?
Who am I? Sometimes I am all of them. Sometimes I am none of them. At times, I miss the Christ all together, and at other times, I stand, rooted to the spot, afraid to move, because right now, at this moment, God is breathing life into the world. Sometimes I am so certain of it that I can feel the warmth of his exhalation.