My heart goes in one of those postal service priority mail boxes a few times a year, when I send Sarah and Anna their birthday presents or other surprises.
Recently, my heart entered a box once again. In July, 1978, when I was eight months pregnant with Sarah, Mike was serving the First United Methodist Church in New Castle, Indiana. One day, we drove to Nappanee, a city in the northern part of the state, to deposit several boxes of clothing donated to an agency, Church World Service.
After we delivered the boxes, we visited the agency gift shop that sold items from third world countries. We decided to purchase our baby's first gift that day, a wooden nativity set made in the Holy Land. Not knowing our baby's gender didn't matter as we prayed that the representation of Jesus' birth would become a treasured part of our child's holiday season.
Through the decades, the small nativity was displayed on the kitchen table next to the Advent wreath. Sarah learned the story of our travel that day, as I told her each year when we put out the decorations.
Now that Sarah is married and has her own home, it's time for the nativity, purchased with great love 40 years ago, to begin a new life with Sarah and her husband, Ryan.
Holding the nativity one more time, looking at the wooden animals, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, I remembered our experience that July day, looking through the store trying to find "the perfect gift' for our child. I thought about all of the parsonages where the manger was displayed. Then, I carefully wrapped it in white tissue paper, and placed it in the postal service box, ready to mail.
For Your Reflection:
1. Are there objects or momentos of Christmas that hold special meaning to you?
2. What is the history of the object?
Prayer: God, thank you for a symbol that represents the joy I felt carrying Sarah as well as Mary's joy giving birth to your son. Bless this nativity as it moves to a new home, carrying my love and blessing for a Merry Christmas to Sarah and Ryan. Amen.