Nativity Sets probably top the list of my favorite Christmas things. For decades now I have treasured how these little depictions of the baby Jesus and surrounding characters help us retell the story of God’s great gift to us in sending our Savior.
At last count, I have well over 50 different nativity sets. (Some are the size of a matchbox, and others cover nearly an entire table.) A couple dozen are displayed at my home year ‘round in a curio cabinet. Other sets stay set out in my office at the church. Still more get packed away each January only to make their way back out of storage in late November. While most of the sets have similarities, I enjoy the unique material or message behind many.
There is one figure that I often move from set to set, even during the year. It is a little plastic shepherd. More specifically, it is a little Linus figure (followers of Peanuts and Charles Schultz would spot him in a minute) with his blanket fashioned as a head covering, who is holding a shepherd’s staff. He looks somewhat at home when I place him within view of the baby Jesus at any of my nativity scenes. (The good news is that shepherds are always welcome at the manger.) And as I catch a glimpse of Linus looking upon the scene, I am always reminded of how he has made sure that people from the 1960’s have kept the birth of this special babe at the center of their Christmas celebration.
In the scene that has sealed the cartoon “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as many peoples’ favorite Christmas video, Linus tells the Peanuts Gang and us about how the shepherds were given good news of a great joy to all the people for them and to us, for a Savior had been born. He ends that recitation from Luke by simply saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”
Thanks Linus (and Luke) for the reminder.
~ Steve Negley
Wonderful God, in this busy season of cheer and goodwill, help me to take the time to welcome the Savior of the world once again into my heart. Amen.