Very, very interesting about the nativity scene. It’s famous all over the world. People everywhere know on sight what it represents. Turns up in department stores, public squares, in commercial ads, in front of churches and on private lawns and on countless Christmas greeting cards.
I swear, the Japanese celebrate Christmas more openly and with more lavish decorations than Americans do now. All over the Far East, Asia, Africa, even parts of the Middle East — and the people know that it’s a representation of a real event. An event that touches and moves them, that signifies a real moment in history, a moment that somehow changed the world. Their world, as well as ours.
They know the nativity concerns a man and a woman, and a very special child. A child whose birth caused the skies to burst with song, angels to announce his coming, wise men to travel from distant places to see an innocent, vulnerable, anonymous baby — a child who was special, in ways they don’t really understand, to God.
And they respect the scene, they are enticed by it. There is a romance, a mystery, a lot of questions they don’t know the answers to, but are intrigued and delighted by. In some strange way, they feel connected to it — or at least would like to be — and they celebrate whatever it means. To them, it seems a necessary part of the day called Christmas.
This, in countries whose national religions are Hindu, Islam, Buddhism, and others!
Paradoxically, there is a growing aversion to the nativity in this country, a number of people and groups who seem determined to remove it from public display. Remarkably, they are alienated by it, irritated by it, offended by it.
This hostility is only recent, really, but it’s especially virulent, and vocal, and increasingly litigious. There are lawsuits, demonstrations, alternate displays of atheistic notions, though there are no distinct events to peg them to. Just angry opposition to the Nativity scene itself.
Why? To see others warmed and inspired by something that belongs only to them by way of their faith, their faith in the God of the Bible and their identification with the little babe in the manger fills some with rage and others with just open jealousy and rancor.
Though the objectors are perfectly free to celebrate their own faith . . . or lack of it . . . in their own ways, that’s not enough.
“What right do those Bible thumpers have to put their displays up in public faces and rub our noses in their silly traditions?” they screech.
Victoria’s Secret and Budweiser and Camels and Viagra are ok to these people, but that miserable nativity scene is offensive!
Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Ramadan are permissible. But keep that nativity scene in a dark church basement where it belongs!
Gay Pride parades are more accepted than the nativity scene.
Then why is it that millions and millions of people all over this country and the world desire, and look eagerly for, that simple, humble scene?
I’ve just had a revelation about that. And I share it with you here.
It’s that old worn book, the Bible, that describes the birth of Jesus. It was well over 2,000 years ago, in an out of the way place called Bethlehem, an event that our modern calendar dates from today. That fact alone should be worthy of celebrating, at least as much as Ground Hog Day or Columbus Day, don’t you think?
In our minds, we join Joseph and Mother Mary in the shepherd’s cave, and peer into the swaddled cradle, and peek at the infant therein.
Chills run up our spines and tears fill our eyes as we gaze upon the one the prophet Isaiah foretold would come:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
And yes, we feel awe. We marvel that God, in his omnipotence and majesty, would allow — no, ordain — that his own son begin his earthly mission in the form of a little, defenseless, vulnerable baby.
And born, not in a palace, but a humble cave, in a sheep crib. But so it was, and in his very vulnerability, we are drawn to him.
Recently, though, I realized a deep truth about that mystical attraction. I recalled that Abraham, called the father of the faithful by Jews, Arabs and Christians, was a 100-year-old itinerant sheepherder himself when he fathered Isaac. And Isaac fathered Jacob, And from the loins of one man, Abraham, there issued all the Arab nations and the people of Israel.
The Apostle Paul, himself a devout orthodox Jew who came to acknowledge Jesus as Isaiah’s promised Messiah, said to all Gentiles who also came to believe in Jesus, “You were dead in your sins . . . strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world until you received Christ. He is our peace, who has made us one, and broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”
That, paraphrased, is saying that the little Jewish baby was given by God to break down all religious barriers and to give every last one of us the chance to be . . . what? Born again!
To start over, in our relationship with God, and be given an eternal life!
Do you see it? Does that help you understand why we who believe, and many who don’t yet feel so drawn to the Nativity scene, and to the little babe himself?
If we truly comprehend and believe, we’re celebrating not just his birth . . . but our own! Spiritually, we’re emanating from that same manger!
Just as the birth of Isaac gave birth to mighty nations of Arabs and Jews . . . the birth of Jesus offers new birth and eternal life to all who receive him in faith!
The grown Jesus proclaimed, “I come not to condemn . . . but to save . . . to save any and all who will receive me and my father.”
Let the heathen rage and the atheists scoff. I, this Christmas, celebrate the birth of Christ . . . and yours as well. And my own.
Pat Boone's public career spans a half-century, during which he has been a top-selling recording artist, the star of a hit television series, a movie star, a Broadway headliner, and a best-selling author. He is also a great-great-grandson of the legendary pioneer Daniel Boone. Read more reports from Pat Boone — Click Here Now.
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