I am so excited by the 'new to us' antique nativity set that we just displayed in our front window. It is made of a couple hundred pounds of cement, hand painted, cracked and chipped, and is believed to have come from an old church. As I upload the photo for this post, I'm left wondering… I wonder how may eyes over the decades have paused and gazed at this scene of Christ's birth?
If you do not know, Grace Outrageous Ministry is located on the main downtown drag of Tiffin. We are side by side with local businesses, restaurants, and a half block from our courthouse square. We rent what was an H&R Block accounting service, a shoe store, and who knows what else, store front property with big glass windows. Windows that can be decorated and displayed for all who drive through our small downtown. Windows that can display the birth scene of humanity's Savior, Jesus, the Promised Messiah.
Each year, there are news stories of public nativity scenes being picketed, tore down, and vandalized. We hear of law suits and protests about separation of religion and state. Now before you get your ire up, this post is not about starting a debate on that topic. I simply want to toss out an idea, a thought, a suggestion that instead of joining in the debate and argument, we think bigger and more creatively on how to keep Jesus Christ and His birth at the center of the Christmas season in an ever growing anti-Christian culture.
What if, instead of fighting a battle that is more and more being lost, we chose to display nativity scenes on our personal property, in places that we do have the freedom to express our beliefs without being sued or protested?
What if, instead of the large nativity on court house squares in communities through America, the little shops that line the streets of towns all displayed the birth of Jesus in their own store front windows? Instead of filling display windows with the products being advertised and sold as Christmas gifts, with Santas and Christmas trees - what if we shared that space with nativity scenes. As individuals and families drove to and from school, work, and the store, they would be surrounded and REMINDED each day of the Christmas season, the reason for the season, by nativity after nativity after nativity.
As American Christians, it is easy to feel like the war upon our faith is being won by the enemy. However, let us be reminded that while battles are lost on topics such as public displays of religious icons, the war has already been won. We know the end of the story. The Church of Jesus Christ will endure, will overcome. The expression of our faith may need to take on different forms, look different in a changing culture - but that has been happening since the church began. That does not mean we have lost.
Carey Nieuwhof encourages churches to skip past the debates, see the glass as half full, and look for connection points with our culture, rather than lay defeated by our culture. (http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/12/10-ways-to-leverage-christmas-to-reach-unchurched-people/)
Connection points. Creativity. Overcoming. Can we overcome the picketers by displaying ten nativity scenes instead of one? Can we be creative and diverse and fun with how we display our nativity scenes instead of simply tearing them down? Can we find connections to start conversations of joy and hope and of Jesus who has enough grace to envelope even the biggest of cynics and doubters and sinners and of God the Father who longs for all of His children to come home?
This Christmas season, let us not feed into fury and anger. Rather, let people say "nativities and carols and prayers… OH MY!!" there EVERYWHERE!