I wanted to continue writing on the theme of Christmas in a small town. Admittedly, this is one of my favorite times of the year. Yes, the change of seasons and in our area a remote chance of snow. The festivities of Christmas include the parties, the lights, stories, presents and Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer. This season also gives us a chance to connect and re-connect with family and friends. This is all part of the merriment of the season.
This year, my youngest children had an opportunity to participate in a Christmas play. This was not unusual for home, but it just took on more significant role in our small town in Northeastern NC. It seemed to be more important, because first off there is less competing for you time, your focus and your strength. So the play was an important part of ministry and one that the children of our church look forward to. The kids from ages 3 – 14 could not wait to do their part. Each performer was dancing, singing, reciting their lines as they rehearsed many times. In fact, this was central; the play was something that families were willing to give up time to practice. The play stood along what had competed for my time in the past including soccer practice, basketball, piano and other activities. It was important, both to participate in but it was important to learn and relearn the story. In fact, the theme was simply entitled, Back to the Manger.
In a small town, the story of Mary and Joseph and a child born in a manger is important and worth supporting the children who participate in retelling it. But let me be clear this is not about whether small town values are better than some other values. The important thing is that the story of Christmas is alive and well. It is told from the largest cities to the most isolated, small communities. The embers of hope and the flames of miracles still warm and light the way. That this hope, change and love is embodied in a babe born in hay and straw in a manger.
The birth of Jesus is a miracle that we celebrate this season and from our small town to you and yours may the joy, and miracle of Christmas visit your life, your family and your community. Merry Christmas!
The manger scene is from Carpenters Shop International Church.