Little bare feet walked the red carpeted aisle of our church. Angels and shepherds draped in tunics made from cloths which may or may not have come from their moms’ linen closets made their way to center stage of our church service where they shared the story of how an Extraordinary God came down to earth to some very ordinary people.
Some little performers sang loudly for all to hear as they clapped enthusiastically to the music. Some courageous little souls sang quietly and dutifully as it mustered all the courage they had to get in front of the large crowd. They sang on key, they sang off key. They shared lines carefully rehearsed, and they improvised as things were forgotten. But all shared the beautiful and wonderful story of Christmas.
But it was more than that. As I watched these little ones on stage I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about what a picture they were of what the church is supposed to look like.
There’s a verse in Colossians that talks about being “clothed in humility”. Clothed on the outside in the way that we are to be on the inside. Ordinary, simple, and loved just as they are. The Lord of All was clothed in humility. So were these little shepherds and angels.
Churchgoers in their Sunday best watched from nice chairs in a beautiful building. We clapped and smiled and enjoyed the mistakes as well as the good performances, because even as we sit in pews on Sunday, we are aware, that we are all made of the same stuff, cut from the same cloth. We are all sinners in need of a Savior, people who have great triumphs and tragedies, secret struggles and cherished hopes. Why is it that the church is so often seen as the opposite? Where we are polished on the outside in pristine buildings, but so out of touch? God didn’t come to the Kings. He came to the shepherds. The Kings came to Him.
And we in the Church, we come to Him. We are not Kings. We are not deserving. The church is not a place to show how great we are. It is a place where needy people have needs met by a Savior who knows them inside out. Jesus never tried to fit a mold. He was most critical of the Pharisees who were so concerned with appearance and so misguided in their personal lives and beliefs. Yes, He came to shepherds and children, those ostracized by society and those who didn’t fit molds. He came to those who knew their need.
So, this Christmas, I’m thankful for little barefoot angels and shepherds, for reminders of the beauty and simplicity of the Christmas story, the gospel message. Jesus came, He lived, He loved, He died and took on our sin, and He dealt with it once and for all on the Resurrection. And those in Christ are freed up….not to live on pedestals, but to be clothed in the grace and humility that comes from the fact that they are forgiven and whole just not by what they have done for themselves, but for what He has done for them, for All who would receive.
There’s a verse that says, “to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”(John 1:12). I love that. This Christmas, with my teens and twenties who are not so very polished and so trying to find their way in this world and how God fits into it, I’m hopeful that they’ll be reminded of the True Gift of Christmas. That they’ll see the beauty of a Savior who meets us right where we are. No matter where we are. No matter who we are. It’s in the coming that matters. He came so that we could come to Him. Just as we are. And that’s the Wonder of Christmas.
Photo Credit: Mandy Wyatt
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”