Friday, December 12, 2008

Focusing on the Babe and not the 'Ho'

OK -so please forgive me if the title offends... but OH how it tickled me last night.

I was talking with a friend of mine (via IM), and we were discussing the rapid arrival of the upcoming holiday. She has a two year old boy, and was telling me they were trying to focus on Advent and not the payload - on Jesus' coming and not Santa's. All of a sudden that phrase came to mind, and I just LAUGHED... as I do every time I think of it!! (And I could dedicate a whole 'nother blog to how accurate the statement really is!)

I asked her if she'd ever done the Walk Thru Bethlehem that happens in Nashville in early December (it is Sunday December 14th from 1p-7p for anyone local to Nashville!). It is amazing.

The entire lower level of the church and the grounds turn into the town of Bethlehem the night of Jesus birth. Live animals, crafts for kids, fish market, synagogue, you name it. I think the Roman soldiers reminding everyone to register for the census is one of my favorite parts... aside from the stable, of course!

It is an event that touches me deeply every year. There are things that have happened there that I will never forget. There was the year that my son - probably 3 years old - ran into the midst of the Nativity Scene to show the Baby Jesus ("and his Mommy") a Christmas card that we had received that morning at church.

Last year an expression of horror appeared on his face when he was told by the Innkeeper, "there are NO ROOMS in the Inn. You cannot stay here...." He looked so troubled by that statement that the Innkeeper quickly followed with "... but if you've come to see The Child, He's right out there...." (Just in time... no tears!).

My daughter has always loved the crafts and the live animals. And I just loved the feel of the place. The bustle and the excitement and anticipation.

My very first year there, I was surprised at how touched I was by the scene. I mean, I know the story. I've seen illustrations of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. The wise men. The animals. But as I turned the corner, and my eyes met His - well, the doll in the leading role - my heart paused. It paused long enough that I know I put my hand to my chest to be sure my heart would beat again.

Last year, there was the serendipitous meeting of an old acquaintance. We had a mutual friend, that I hadn't talked to in a long time. She asked if I'd seen her. I said no. She suggested I call her... which turned out to be a huge God-thing.

So, this Advent season, I too, will be trying to focus more on the Babe than on the 'Ho'. And I will again walk through Bethlehem. And I expect, as always, I will be awed at the sight of the Child in the manger. The Gift, given to all....

See you there!

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