Yesterday we celebrated Christmas. That celebration of the most glorious event humans ever experienced. The birth of Jesus. That event brings with it unbridled joy and hope.
With that in mind, I’d like to talk about two of my favorite Christmas traditions. Christmas lights, and a live Nativity.
Christmas lights remind us that Jesus came to be the light of the world. Throughout the Christmas season, we like to ride around looking at Christmas lights.
You know, even on a cold, rainy, December night you can never go wrong with a DQ Blizzard. Like Sunday night when we went through the drive-through at DQ and got a Blizzard. Mine was a peppermint hot chocolate Blizzard. Y’all, it had crushed peppermint in the whipped cream. Mmmm.
We rode around Rome looking at Christmas lights. But first, we rode by the live Nativity at Trinity United Methodist Church. Speaking of a live Nativity….
Walk through Bethlehem
One year, Loganville Baptist Church had a unique live Nativity. Y’all, this was not just a live Nativity. It was a production called “Walk Through Bethlehem.”
The Bethlehem Market was humming with activity. A potter was busily turning out beautiful hand-thrown pitchers and bowls. At the fishmonger’s shop, smoke wafted toward the sky as fresh fish sizzled while it cooked over the fire.
The aroma of fresh-baked bread filled the air. The baker called out to us, “Have some of this wonderful fresh bread!” A weaver spun wool and made fine-looking blankets. There were vendors of olives and olive oil, figs, salt, wine and spices. Merchants called out to us, “ Come sample some figs!”
A rabbi with a Southern accent
In the middle of the market, rabbis offered to pray with us. My favorite rabbi was dressed in a proper rabbinical robe and Nike tennis shoes. In a heavy Georgia accent, the rabbi said, “Let us pray...”
We wandered through the village and reached the edge of town. On a picturesque hillside we encountered shepherds warming themselves by the fire — of which Boy Scout Troop 536 of Loganville was in charge. The shepherds had two border collies herding the sheep.
Leaving the shepherds behind, we followed the Star of Bethlehem and arrived at a stable. The stable was quiet and smelled of fresh hay. There were kittens playing in the hay. There was an ox, a donkey, a camel, sheep, and lambs. The animals seemed to know this was a special place for it seemed they were smiling.
Also in the stable were shepherds and wise men. At the center of this peaceful, reverent scene were Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus. The wise men brought presents for the baby. There was a beautiful angel who seemed to be in charge of it all. This was the best part of Walk Through Bethlehem.
Getting it right
Every year, when I get it right, I prepare my heart for the coming of Jesus. That preparation comes in the form of Christmas music, seeing a live Nativity, volunteering and reading my daily devotionals. Getting a DQ Blizzard and riding around looking at Christmas lights keeps it fun. Ultimately, because of the preparations I mentioned, Christmas and the New Year are much more meaningful.
This year, it seems, I got it right once again. Saturday our family is going to Garden Lights Holiday Nights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. Our family’s visit to this wonderful display of Christmas lights will remind us, once again, that Jesus came to be the light of the world.
Enjoying those lights just before New Year’s will set the tone for 2020. A new year with many blessings and delightful new things to come.