This is a guest post from Jacob Sahms. Jacob is husband to one, father to two, pastor to 2 churches under 1 roof, blogs at Mustard Seed Thoughts, tweets @Spider_Raven, and is managing editor at HollywoodJesus.com.
I was always a wise man. Or a wise guy. Some people would say I still am.
From the time I was old enough to stand still, I played the role of one of the three wise men in my church’s living nativity. Sometimes, I was THE wise man, depending on what attendance was looking like, but I stood still and held my pose for hours. Sure, the air in New England was freezing cold by December, but we got hot chocolate; sure, the beard was itchy and irritated my face for days, but we had a front row seat to the kids who approached the manger to look at the little Jesus doll… and pet the cows.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have a petting zoo connection. We used calves (by that, I mean “smaller” cows weighing 500 to 1000 pounds) and other animals that the farm down the street would loan us. They weren’t unfriendly but they weren’t used to little kids, and for the most part we stayed away from them (if we were smart). We stayed away except for the time my dad had to chase one down the main street of our town because the cow decided it was time to go home early…
Looking back, those experiences growing up inclined me toward the Living Nativity as a ministry. At my first youth minister stop, I found myself orchestrating a two-hour production complete with a petting zoo menagerie, and up to fifty kids. There were baby sheep, clucking chickens, a donkey, and even a few other more ‘exotic’ animals. Hundreds of people came by, and the look on the children’s faces made all of our preparation worthwhile.
Now, at our little country church, the Living Nativity is making a comeback. It’s the first year we’ll have done it in several years, but enough of us remember the looks on those faces that make it worthwhile. We remember the traditions of the living nativity from the various churches we’ve come from, and we want to plant some of those new memories in the minds and hearts of the kids who will come that night. It’s not enough for us that we have the traditions for ourselves, but we remember how they’re tied to our love of Jesus and the growth we’ve experienced in church.
What traditions will you share this Christmas? How will you pass on the love of Jesus and the light of his birth? Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without them, would they?
I can still see my dad chasing that cow down the street….