Friday (December 3, 2021)

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76)

My favorite Christmas tradition is setting up our family creche, a miniature reproduction of the famous stable and manger scene. 

The nativity set that we use at our home is from the Italian figurine company Fontanini. The figurines are beautifully crafted with delicate features and subdued colors. At my house growing up, every year my family would set the crèche and its figurines above the fireplace in the living room, every figure in his or her place with one notable exception. The manger was left unoccupied. No baby Jesus figurine, not until Christmas. For me, putting each figure in its right place, on standby, frozen in time until Jesus took his rightful place in the middle of it all on Christmas Eve was how I prepared a way for the Messiah. 

A week ago, on the first Sunday of Advent, the creche made its triumphant return, and I proceeded to put all of the figurines in their correct places, preparing the way for Jesus. But then something else happened. This year, Eliza is old enough to take interest in our family creche. She loves the cow; she adores the sheep; she takes the angels and flies them around and bangs them against the table; and most notably she takes the collection of shepherds and tries to cram them inside the small stable along with Mary and Joseph. By bath time in the evening, there is a pile of figures in the stable and others strewn across the floor, some under the dining room table, and sometimes others stuffed between the couch cushions. 

The first few nights, after Eliza went to bed, I would straighten up, putting all the figures back in their “appropriate positions.” Last night, however, I tried to embrace Eliza’s chaotic messy vision of the nativity instead of my staid and somber one and left it the way it was. Because in all honesty, the world that Jesus came into more closely resembles hers. And sometimes it takes a child, like Zechariah’s prophetic words in Luke, to go before the Lord to prepare his way.

Let us pray: Emmanuel, teach us how to prepare the way of your coming, embracing your desire to enter into this broken world rather than desiring our own. Let us look to the prophets among us to teach us what it means to follow you. Amen 

Peace in Christ,

Pr. Daniel Joyner Miller