(Feature photo courtesy of Jeff Weese and internal photo courtesy of Michaels.com)
Epic Adventures from the Nativity
by Michelle Schonken
One of my fondest memories as a child was playing with the Nativity Set during the Christmas season. In my pretend world, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus had many adventures with the Wise Men and shepherds. One particularly imaginative day they recruited the livestock to overthrow King Herod! Such great nostalgic times… But as silly and playful as I was with the little figures of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, I must say that those moments were incredibly formative to me.
My parents allowed me to play with the figurines because they wanted me to see the pivotal characters in the Nativity story as real people. They encouraged me to think about where they each were traveling from, what that road was like, and how people from such diverse backgrounds could come together and praise the most important character in the story – the hero and savior Jesus Christ. This made the story and people come to life for me. When we see them as real people, we can appreciate how hard their sacrifices were, how they must have overcome huge fears, and how Jesus was absolutely worth all the struggles to come and honor him. We can also imagine what a humble, unsafe, and uncomfortable setting Jesus was being born into. What a huge contrast to heaven and what a huge sacrifice for us! I love pondering these thoughts because it brings the Gospel close and personal. He sacrificed so much for me; could I be as sacrificial in my worship of Him as those Wise Men who risked so much to find Him?
So here is my encouragement and thoughts for you all this Christmas season. If you have a Nativity scene in your home, let the kids play with the it. If it is too fragile, perhaps you can set some time aside to make a home-made one with your kids or younger relatives. It is easy enough to do with popsicle sticks for the stable and different colored pom-poms to create people and animals (just tape squares of heavy paper to their bottoms so they stand up). Or you can grab a Nativity foam craft kit on sale like the one pictured below.
Any materials that can make the scene less static and more interactive with movable people and animals is wonderful. As you watch the kids bring the Nativity to life, you can talk to them about the people that made the story possible. I know from personal experience that it makes a huge difference to young hearts and you might find that you’ll gain a new appreciation for that special night over 2,000 years ago.
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