All during the Christmas season I had a little Nativity scene in my room. The scene is very small, just about 12 inches long, 8 inches high and 6 inches deep. It consists of an open thatch-covered shed, which houses Mary, Joseph and the Infant.
Despite its small size, it has all the principal participants, though shepherds are in short supply. There is only one sheep, but the ox and the donkey are in place to supply the central heating. The three Wise Men are there, with their star perched precariously on the edge of the thatched roof.
The entire scene, figures and structure, is one single piece. To add to the attractiveness, it is battery-powered, and has lights, sound and music.
At the push of a tiny button, a narrator begins the Christmas story, alternating between the gospels of Matthew and Luke, in order to include all the actors. The narration is punctuated by music at the appropriate moment, “Gloria” sung by the angels, and “Angels we have heard on high”, by the shepherds. When the Wise Men are mentioned we hear them sing, “We three kings of Orient are”, while the precarious Star flashes bravely above the humble shelter. The narration concludes with a piece of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
This Nativity scene cost me very little, bought opportunistically at the drugstore. But I like it so much that I did not want to pack it away. Much like those roadside restaurants who advertise “Breakfast all day”, I thought of starting a new trend of “Christmas all year”. But something told me that “Christmas all year” was an unwise attempt to escape the drudgery of life as it is.
The baby of Bethlehem is soon a boy, learning the skills of the trade in his father’s workshop. He is going to spend more than 90% of his short life in that workshop, and we are told nothing about it, except for when the veil is lifted for a brief three days when he is 12 years old.
But those long monotonous years in the workshop at Nazareth are important for all of us. They teach us that the monotonous routine of daily life has meaning and value if you just try to do what you have to do, with as much care and attention as you can.
Just as I cannot live on a “breakfast all day” menu, so a “Christmas all year” plan is not realistic. The new-born Savior does not want to remain in the manger; he is impatient to accomplish his life’s task. Your daily routine takes on a new value if you ask him to make it part of his work to renew the face of the earth.