The other morning I drove by a local Southern Baptist and saw a notice advertising a "Living Nativity" this week. In my attempt to really soak up the last week before Christmas, I decided that paying a visit to a live nativity certainly needed to be put on our calendar.
Last night was the night! Even though the church was less than a ten minute drive from our house, our kids were poking each other, fighting, making obnoxious noises and sounds, whining and incessantly talking. It wasn't exactly the most peaceful, harmonious atmosphere in our car as we pulled into the church parking lot.
We arrived at the church as last minute preparations were being put together for the nativity and so we sat in the car and waited. Big mistake.
Megan was trying to find loose pieces of Drew's clothing that he had taken off whilst buckled into a car seat. Luke and Ellie insisted on being within inches of Megan's personal space while doing aforementioned task, Drew was whining about having to wear shoes and socks, Joshua kept wondering aloud, "When are we getting out?" and Luke kept anticipating every animal that would be present as a truck and trailer were being unloaded nearby. I was sounding like a broken record as I repeated over and over the reminders of how we act in public, especially at an event such as this.
Without warning Joshua announced, "We should sing 'Away in a Manger'!" First of all, that is my favorite Christmas song, and secondly, we have done a nice consistent job this last week or so gathering together each evening to sing a good Christmas classic. Of course I couldn't resist him. Joshua, Ellie and I immediately began singing, to which Mike declared a loud "time-out". Mike insisted we wait until Megan quit declaring aloud the absolute disappearance of Drew's red sock and Luke quit the loud speculations of which animal would exit the trailer next.
It was worth the wait. It was quite a poignant, mystical scene. Seven of us bundled up in coats, gloves and hats sitting in our suburban singing "Away in a Manger" whilst facing a simple re-enacted scene of the Holy Night centuries ago. It was a respite in its truest form from the contention and energy of the past few minutes. Some of us sang off-key, and some of us on-key about the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
As important as we truly believe the birth of Jesus Christ to be...
It ended up being one of those evenings we chose to have family prayer in the car on the way home to spare having to be together any longer than necessary upon arrival at home. Drew was insistent Mike "top diving" (stop driving) and his pleas didn't stop for several blocks. Drew confused our family prayer for personal prayers and more than once we heard him say "Jesus Christ, Amen".
And despite the fact our five children put a few dampers on the event, it was one of my very favorite things we've done during the Christmas season.
I hope the local Southern Baptist's decide their first Living Nativity was a success. They can most certainly expect our attendance next year.
Whether they want us or not.