Not Just Another Nativity

Just completed marathon week at our church, including a live nativity on Friday and Saturday night. With all the busyness, I didn't really take time out to think about the impact the nativity could have on the community. I take it for granted that Americans know why Christmas is celebrated, even if they don't want to personally celebrate it for the same reasons. Should it have surprised me that God exceeded my expectations?

In our "Journey to Christmas," event, visitors mingle in the refreshment room enjoying cookies and cider and hot chocolate, and then are led by a guide to witness various scenes around the church property from the Christmas story in Luke 2. At the very end, a narrator stands by Jesus' manger and explains the reason for Jesus' birth by pointing to three crosses that light up a few yards away.

Honestly, I thought visitors would see it as just another cute retelling of the Christmas story, and that it wouldn't have much emotional or intellectual impact. It was supposed to rain, so we had to hold it indoors. It was the first year our church put it on, so there were some minor glitches and a few rough artistic decisions. Like most churches, ours is limited in its number of volunteers, so we had some young actors, too.

Nevertheless, we prayed that the rain would stop for the three hours each night that visitors would witness the scenes, and we prayed that God would send the people and that his message would be heard.

It rained all day both days... but stopped for the three hours each night we performed.

Four-hundred and fifty people came, most of them new visitors, not members of the church.

And yesterday morning our Pastor shared with us stories from the guides who had led people through the various scenes. One woman admitted, "I finally understand what Christmas is all about..." and another man asked what the Cross meant.

It was a revelation to me that there are still people out there who don't know the true miracle of God becoming man. And I had to learn that God doesn't require innovative technology and professional acting to accomplish his purposes. We'll be much more successful if we just give it all to him.

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