I stumbled upon this thought provoking devotional I wanted to share with you:
Away in a Manger (from www.cru.org
I pressed my forehead up against the cold car window as my mom and dad drove past the large nativity on Main Street. This crèche possessed a mystery: why was baby Jesus missing? When the people set up the manger, did they forget to add Him? Did they accidentally misplace Jesus last year when they packed up the stable? Maybe someone stole Him! But every year, my suspicions were silenced on Christmas Day when Jesus suddenly appeared downtown in the blanket-covered trough. As an adult, I wanted to create a similar feeling of anticipation around my family's nativity set. In fact, only animals find shelter in our stable for most of December. On a nearby bookshelf, the wise men travel; above our entertainment center, the shepherds guard their sheep, and Mary, Joseph and a donkey rest from their journey atop our family room end table. Then on every Sunday of Advent, my kids and I move each of these three groups around the room, "closer" to Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve, the stable fills up, but Jesus is still nowhere in sight. He's carefully wrapped in a beautiful box beneath the Christmas tree. By tradition, this is the first present to appear under the tree, and the first present we open on Christmas morning. With great satisfaction, we place the baby in the trough; eager expectations met, our attention correctly focused. Every heart must choose to invite Jesus in or leave Him out. He is the greatest gift of all.
I thought this was a very interesting family tradition, especially since December is so often about traditions. What traditions do you celebrate with your family? What do you hold close to your heart? Do you have a Elf on the Shelf? I have to ask, how many of them involve the reason for the season...Christ? My family always sang Happy Birthday to Jesus before we opened any gifts Christmas morning. If Christmas was on a Sunday, I was able to bring one opened present to church (yes, I shook every package, and I picked very carefully those years). I invite you to consider your traditions this year, and think about the role Christ plays in them.
Blessings this holiday season, and Merry Christmas! Considering bringing a friend to the 4:30pm family Christmas Eve service or the 10pm traditional candlelight Christmas Eve service.