Monday, December 12, 2011

Nativity Seen

For a year I have saved these two photos knowing that I would need them. They are not remarkable in and of themselves but leave it to a grandchild to teach me an Advent lesson. Meg, who was six at the time, took one look at the nativity scene and remarked, "It wouldn't have been like this, Grammy."

"It would have been like this," Meg instructed as she rearranged the figurines.
 "Everyone would have snuggled up close to Jesus because they came to see him."
She was right.

Those who came to see Him, God Incarnate, yet human, lying in a cattle trough, pressing in to see for themselves the source of the tidings of great joy.
There is a great urgency in the moment.
Many years ago one of our little friends called the mother of Jesus the "Urgent Mary."
For the bible depicts quite a sense of urgency in the events surrounding the nativity. Any mother who has been on the verge of delivering a child is quick to comprehend the urgency of the moment.
But the prophecy, too, must be fulfilled that Joseph and Mary need arrive in the city of David, Bethlehem, for the birth of Jesus.
Don't you suppose Joseph's level of urgency increased as the search for shelter continued?
Then all these people and animals pressing in on them. They've got to see Jesus.
Luke 2:16 says that the shepherds "made haste" to Bethlehem to this thing that had come to pass that the Lord had made known to them.
Awful as this is, I have to show you what I saw while out shopping.
Not quite the caption I would have chosen even on a sentimentalized, sanitized version of the story. But the point was driven home again. Seeing Jesus is a matter of urgency.

Two of my favorites in the nativity are often overlooked and yet theirs is another clear picture of the sense of urgency surround the coming of Christ.
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel...Lord, you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your Word: For my eyes have seen your Salvation.
How long had Simeon waited?
His urgency was such that he could not die until he had seen Israel's Consolation.
In that same scene we find Anna who served God with fasting and prayer night and day.
 It is immeasurable sense of urgency that calls one to night and day prayer and fasting.  
She spoke of Him to all those who had looked for Redemption in Israel.
Her prayer?
Come, Lord Jesus. Come. (Rev. 22:20)
There is urgency in coming to see Jesus.
Today is the day of Salvation. (2Cor.6:2)
Come. With urgency.
Nativity Seen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Grandparenting: Noelf On the Shelf

There's no Elf On the Shelf in my kitchen but there is no shortage of Christmas fun on the cupboard. When the grandchildren started adding up, Spike (the original Mr. Christmas Decorations) and I started this Christmas Cupboard tradition. The shelves are loaded with everything from little sacks of coal for those special little children when they display what we call "leadership potential" to singing snowmen, nutcrackers and angels. Once the Christmas celebrating is over each of the seven grandchildren can choose one thing from the cupboard to take home for their own Christmas cupboard. Then hopefully they'll have a good headstart on their own stash of Christmas cheer.
Each year I need to replenish a bit. Would you like to see what's on the shelves?
This doesn't have to be a huge expense. Most things have been in the decorations box or in the cabinets and drawers all along.
I found the plates at the Dollar Tree. The bear is something my mom and dad had sent to us when my girls were little and my sister gave the girls several wooden figurines including the two little pig-tailed cuties.
The little cuff bracelet belonged to my mother. It was her souvenir from the 1934 Chicago World's Fair. Behind it are two of her childhood ornaments.
Do you see the gumball machine on a stand? Dollhouse.

That's a lady bug with wiggly legs in a pretend jewelry box that I found in one of my mysterious kitchen drawers yesterday.
 I predict that will be a gonner before the first of the year.
And that's my grandmother's thimble.

There are a few items that have to stay put for the time being.
This fisherman tree ornament for example. He looks just like Grandmuver's late husband Sonny whom my children affectionately called "Sonny the Bunny."
There never was a more aristocratic Southern gentleman than Sonny the Bunny.
Some day someone can take him home. But not yet.
Santa is standing on the doll chair that was mine about 800 years ago.
It used to be pink but is much happier dressed in Christmas red.
And there's my uncle's kazoo.

This year's best addition is the Ole Miss black bear. I made him 25 years ago and the poor fellow has been living in a cabinet in the upstairs bathroom for years.
He doesn't have a mouth, but then the black bears are pretty much speechless right about now.
There's old doll house furniture, small village scenes (from Dollar Tree),
and my grandfather's wooden Stanley ruler. Oops, can't take that yet either. :(
Photos of the grandchildren hang in little ornaments that I found at Hobby Lobby.
I had to buy an extra this year.
And do you see Notre Dame in front of the poor black bear with the sack of coal?
Dollar Tree had a whole series of world landmarks but, mais oui, only Notre Dame for these children.
Most mysterious to me is that whirly-gig thing on the bottom right.
My crib toy.

Let's see. What else is in here.
A wooden Pinnochio that I bought in Italy, Santa salt and pepper shakers, a tin of maple syrup, china dolls from my sister and the fun house plaque that my son-in-law's mother made for us.
She also made the fabulous alphabet block music box in the photo above.
The old egg beater was my grandmother's and the little book shelf is a doll house find at Hobby Lobby. With all of our book lovers I'm thinking it will be moving on shortly, too.

The selection process is hilarious. The children start processing, plotting and planning what they will choose as soon as they get here.
We need to come up with a scheme for who gets to go first.
Once it's gone, it's gone, darlin'. We've had a few agonizing moments and some hilarious ones where making up one's mind is as difficult as memorizing the shorter catechism.
Jack just heard about that family in Arkansas that's going to have its 20th child. Shocking.
And Jack's assessment of the news?
 "It's a good thing they don't come to Grammy's house because that would wipe out the Christmas shelf."
One last couple of items. My great grandfather's manicure set in the black leather case.
And another bear or two and a painted wooden Russian toy of chickens pecking for food.
Can't imagine why someone hasn't chosen pecking chickens yet.

That's all for now. Moving on to the motorized ferris wheel and the smoking steam engine that sings Christmas carols. And I haven't even gotten close to decorating the tree which is another story. Mr. Christmas always gets a twelve-foot tree.
We have ten-foot ceilings.
It's fun.