IN FAITH

Reflections on Creches

 

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. {9} And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. {10} And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. {11} For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. {12} And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. {13} And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, {14} Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. {15} And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. {16} And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. {17} And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. {18} And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. {19} But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. {20} And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. {21} And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:8-21 KJV)

It was only yesterday that the snow fell in Wabash. It was accompanied by strong winds and freezing rain. As the weather took its annual turn to winter, it caused me to reflect on winters and Christmases past.

So many things change in our lives. Downtown shopping areas change. Businesses come and go. Streets are widened. Bridges are built. And the faces of towns and cities change over the decades. Change seems to be the stuff from which life is made. And yet, each of us must have an anchor somewhere, a place to call home, a place where one’s heart dwells.

Reading the Christmas story (and for me, the King James version of the Bible is the Christmas story—though I appreciate other versions), roots me once again, not just in childhood, or memories—but in something more foundational than all of the temporary experiences of life.

The memories of Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, unwrapping presents and festive times with family are brought to mind in this season. But, what comes closest to my heart is the story from Luke, chapter 2, which seems so real to me that it almost seems that I could have been there, though I know I was not.

Most of us want to place ourselves in the company of the shepherds who went to the place where Jesus was born. We long to gaze at the face of the newborn Prince of Peace. We hunger and thirst to talk with Mary and Joseph about the Christ child and just to be there—in rapt attention. The Magi ride in from the east and bow before the Christ child. They do homage to Him. The star blazes in the night sky. And everyone who pauses before the “manger scene” or “creche,” wants to gain just a bit of what Christmas is really about, to sense the hope that the birth of Jesus brought. We long to keep that hope and hold it close to our breast and never let it go, just as we long for our own children to be near. Perhaps at this time of year, we come closest to naming our greatest desire—true peace, in a world where peace often seems to be a scant commodity.

The gift of Christmas hope is hard to kill, even though wars and rumors of wars stalk us, and others across the oceans. Deep in our hearts we know that God still reigns, that the world still belongs to Him and not to the evil one.

And, at no other time of year do we sing hymns with such gusto! Many of us could sing Christmas carols in July—because Christmas embodies that which is most precious inside us.

So across Fort Wayne and Allen County, and in Wabash and across our nation and in places where the story of Jesus has come to be cherished, we will build our manger scenes. We will remember that the Christmas story lives in our hearts and minds—even in a world where discord seems too real.

Once again we will wrap our presents, sing Christmas carols, visit loved ones and cling to the greatest hope of all—Christ, the Savior is born.

The Waynedale News Staff

Rev. Chris Madison, Senior Pastor First United Methodist Church, Wabash, IN

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