While my title may sound like this is a New Year’s post, it’s not. I’m about three weeks behind on blogging and have so many thoughts in the night that need to come out so I will just pretend it’s mid December and go from there…
On my way to the Christmas party for Step by Step, the non profit I worked for for seven years as a case worker helping low income women and children, I found myself on the phone with a friend. The conversation didn’t go like I expected. I pulled into the parking lot for the party, needing to step into high gear for the night with my responsibilities, and was shaking with tears and emotion. My mother happened to pull in at the same time. Providential? Certainly. If there’s anything I know, it’s that God is all about those small things.
She talked me into a somewhat calm stage and let me cry on her shoulder. It’s been a month now and my heart hasn’t really recovered just yet. However, that night, that party was, as always, a high point of our whole Christmas season. Getting to give love and share hope with those who need it so much.
I got out to my post for the evening in the courtyard for the live nativity that I coordinated. As soon as I was out there, it felt all wrong. The stable where my Mary and Joseph would sit on a bale of straw with their ‘baby’ was tucked up in the rocks on a ledge. I knew I was already worked up and upset so I tried hard to respond reasonably but something about it up there off to the side didn’t seem right.
My heart for organizing the nativity to begin with was to provide a place where the essence of Christmas could engage all the clients who attended the party, most whom I knew probably didn’t call any church home.
I fought the urge to cry (again) and put my determined self to work finding some strong men who would move the stable (which weighed hundreds of pounds) for me. Quickly though, the consensus was it HAD to stay where it was. Someone had said so. I begged and asked again and finally found some who would move it anyway.
They did and my heart breathed relief as it was where it belonged. We got everyone dressed, goats tied up, the donkey in place and all night long young families heard the Christmas story from the innkeeper/storyteller before coming outside to enter in to the heart of Christmas.
Babies were placed in the manger to have their pictures taken. Children squealed as they pet the goats. One client later told her case worker,
Being out there, that night, I just wanted to kneel.
My heart that hurt for the intangible loss in my conversation earlier that evening somehow filled to brimming as I watched family after family, child after child come to see the stable and the darling angels and the shepherds and the baby who changed the world.
As the night wrapped up I realized all in one moment why it had been such a big deal to me that the stable was out where everyone could walk through it. Because the step up to get to it where it had been placed made it seem set apart for only some and in a high place that not all could reach.
The wildly amazing thing that captivates my heart about Jesus is that He isn’t a gift just for some. His love isn’t placed up on steps that make it hard for someone in a wheelchair or a stroller…..or someone drowning in addiction or someone bearing the shame of one too many bad choices or someone who looks perfect but knows only a black empty heart.
It is for everyone. The ones who have it all and the ones who have nothing.
Everyone. There is a place for each one to know and enter in to God’s unbelievable, life changing love.