By Bob Laver
It was quite a nativity scene. The Wise Men were trying to stay focused on the Christ child. The shepherds were wandering a bit. Even Mary and Joseph were hoping they were in the right place and not off course.
I’m sure the first century nativity scene faced the same thing, but I’m talking about my plastic nativity scene in my front lawn.
Rag Tag Heroes
I love my nativity scene. In the middle of all the Santa Claus, reindeer, mistletoe, and other secular trappings in the neighborhood, the little plastic nativity scene in my front lawn is my silent witness to the 200 cars that turn around in our cul-de-sac on a given night.
My wife found my six plastic heroes at a garage sale a couple of years ago. Mine is a rag tag set. I have three Wise Men, each with a gift. I have a shepherd, who has to do double duty as Joseph. I park him next to Mary and hope no one will notice the shepherd’s staff. Mary and baby Jesus round out the team. They are well anchored in front of my porch. Each has a lightbulb so they are lit for the whole neighbored to see. And the coolest feature—they are remote controlled! I can turn on my nativity set from the comfort of my living room. It is the first thing I do when I get home. I do have to outsource that job to my 8-year-old granddaughter when she is visiting. She needs to be reminded to only turn them on once and leave them on. Flicking them on and of and having a strobe light Jesus might upset the neighbors.
So far this winter, my nativity has proudly represented my family during subzero temperatures and pounding, constant Oregon rains. However, there was a big windstorm a few weeks ago. I had my heroes securely staked into the ground, but that windstorm turned them into Bethlehem bowling pins. The wind even knocked out the lightbulb in one Wise Man, so he is in the infirmary in my garage.
Not to be outdone by the weather, I conjured up some concrete blocks and built a little wall around each one figure. However, during the next windstorm the blocks served as diving boards, turning my plastic nativity scene into Christmas competitors for the next Winter Olympics. My Joseph/Shepherd caught some serious air as he backflipped over the wall and out into the grass. There was lot of Christmas carnage. My remaining two Wise Men were touring the rose bushes, and Mary had stuck her landing in the neighbor’s lawn.
Where was baby Jesus? He is my decorating miracle. He is only a couple of inches high, and the bed of straw is perfectly square. I didn’t have to look for him or chase him down. He was right where he was supposed to be. During all the Christmas chaos, he hadn’t moved and is still literally holding down the fort in my front lawn.
Come to think of it, my miniature Messiah is a great lesson for us all. As the storms of life scatter our schedules and pound our priorities, Jesus Christ remains our anchor. He keeps us grounded and never moves. He is the only constant in an ever changing, windy world. We can depend on him to light our path and show us the way.
The wind is picking up again. Where did that Wise Man go?
Bob Laver is a freelance writer in Molalla, Oregon.