Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The beginning of the story

While decking the halls of my home with holiday cheer, I turned on the t.v. seeking some seasonal background accompaniment while hoping for something to put me in the right spirit. The Grinch, Frosty, Rudolph… any of them would suffice.
After more time channel surfing than my shortening attention span would allow, I eventually landed on Life is Beautiful, a movie about the Holocaust. Certainly, a holocaust movie was not at all what I was searching for to put me in the Christmas spirit; still, I had to watch because I had seen this film before. But this time it was more powerful. Knowing what was to happen, intensified the way I watched it. I knew the trials and tribulations the main character would have to go through, and this deeply touched me, as if I had an investment in his life. While watching scenes of the character in innocent, happy times, my heart ached for him, knowing what waited around the corner. I wanted to warn him. Somehow, my knowledge of how the story ended affected the way I looked at the beginning.
Finally, I had to continue decorating my house for Christmas and I pulled my nativity scene out of storage.
That’s when it hit me.
Setting up my nativity, I had that same empathetic feeling as when I watched the movie.
Carefully placing the stable on the table, I could feel the coldness of the holy family’s shelter on my hands. I knew what was going to happen inside those drafty walls.
I lifted my Joseph figure out of the box and placed him inside the shelter. His simple expression could not begin to hint at what I understood was in store for this earthly father---what he would have to go through to keep his family safe. Then, I held Mary in my hands and thought of her. So loving and peaceful. Her trusting words echoed in my head. "Let it be done to me according to your will." But could she possibly have known what was to happen to her son? I knew and I had this overwhelming desire to warn her.
Then it was time for the manger, simple and humble, to be placed in position.
Finally, I was ready for Jesus. So perfect and good –the figure was cast with a smile of rapturous joy on his baby face. Surrendering him to his manger of straw, I felt as if I were putting the lamb up for slaughter. And, indeed, I was.
I knew what was to happen 33 years later. I knew. God knew. Our Lord knew. And still it happened. Not in spite of this knowledge, but because of this knowledge –it happened.
Sitting before my nativity scene, I reflected on the Easter end of the story that begins at this Christmas season.
What a gift it is, knowing how this story ends. What an awesome responsibility we have, to take that knowledge and make the most of it—not just for Christmas, but our whole lives. For it is only because of this beginning and ending, that we have been offered the most beautiful beginning of all.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Tammy. I really needed it. We have been so busy lately it's nice to take a pause and reflect on what Christmas is all about.

Anonymous said...

As I sit with my presents wrapped and under the tree, it is nice to pause and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. Yes, gift giving is nice but remembering the best gift of all is positively joyous. Happy Birthday, Jesus and "Thank you"!

Joan McNutt