My fourteen year old niece and I attended Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry this week with a group from church. Technically, it was the senior-citizen’s group, and though I’m not quite there yet, I totally enjoy hanging out and going places with this awesome group of folks. Over the past twenty-three years I have, at various times, dragged any one of my three nieces along with me on any number of adventures, many of which ended with spectacular Nativity scenes. This one was no different.
I think I liked the bus ride almost as much as the show because we enjoyed ourselves so much and, more importantly, got to spend some one-on-one quality time together. I cracked her up with pictures I’d scanned of the old family photo albums from way-back-when. She kept saying, “Is that my dad?” and taking pictures of the pictures. Then she would say, “Oh, I’m going to give him a hard time over this one!” It is always fun to look at old family pictures through fresh eyes. I do fear, though, that she and I may be banned from any future senior-citizen bus trips! We sort of boycotted the chosen “event” restaurant.
I don’t really consider myself a picky eater. I can handle most restaurants, because you can generally find something to eat at most any place you go. The exception to that rule for me is buffets. I just can’t do them. The thought of some stranger touching something that will then be touching my food just turns me off. Hey, who knows where those hands have been? Who knows when they have been washed last? I won’t even go there about people sneezing and coughing over the food! Plus, with the flu and stomach virus going rampant right now, no way, no how did I want to do a buffet. So where does the bus pull into? You got it…a buffet.
I was trying to think of a way to be diplomatic, but not have to eat at the buffet. So I told my niece that we would stay on the bus and we would be the last ones to get off. I told her that we would sneak over to Chick-fil-A after everyone else got into the buffet restaurant. I did tell our tour leader that we were going to take a walk and she just asked me to make sure we were back in time. No problem! As we were traversing the two parking lots and one access road between us and the Chick-Fil-A, we looked back and saw the bus driver right behind us. He felt the same way we did about buffets in general!
We, of course, got back to the bus well before the rest of our party. The folks sitting behind us on the bus commented that they’d missed us inside. I told them where we’d eaten. They were like, “We didn’t know we could do that!” Then the folks in front of us chimed in and said, “Shoot, we would have done that if we’d known that we could.” I told them that, technically, I didn’t know if we could; but we decided that asking for forgiveness as opposed to permission was the course we were going to take. I think there was a slight bit of Chick-Fil-A envy, but all was well with my partner in crime and I, and any possibly munity was held at bay!
OK, on to the topic at hand. We had very good seats for our show, once we dodged the photo op with Santa at the entrance to the auditorium! It, actually, was one of the very best shows I have attended in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It was a full-on, family friendly variety show starting out with beloved, old Christmas songs such as White Christmas and Let It Snow , then moving to a country classics set, later, to a modern twist on some old favorites, all culminating in a beautiful Nativity with live animals, beautiful costumes and amazing sets all pared with an exceptionally talented cast.
One of the things that struck me as I watched the Nativity scene being played out was the body language of the “Three Wise Men.” As they came toward the Baby Jesus, their heads were bowed and their posture was reverent; not just as they approached His person, but as they traveled to be in His presence. It really made me think about how we, as followers of Jesus Christ, come to Him, or even come toward Him.
The Wise Men had done their research. They knew that this special star heralded the birth of a new King, a very special King. They reverently and humbly brought their gifts to this young Child and laid them at His feet.
My question, on this Christmas Eve, is, “How do you, how do we, approach the Christ Child? What gifts do we bring? No gift that I could ever bring would match the boundless gift that He brings to us.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was born as a baby of a virgin and lived a sinless life. His earthly ministry only lasted about three years. He was nailed to a cross where He died. He was taken from the cross and buried in a borrowed tomb. He arose at the third day. He then spent time with his disciples and others before ascending to sit at the right hand of God. These facts are history. These facts changed the very course of history. This Christ child came into our tangible, living world in human form. I see, in the Christ child, that He came to be a sacrifice for the very creatures that He created. I see the Nativity as a foreshadowing of the reverence and worship that will be given Him when He comes to reign as that Very Special King!
I would love to say that I always come toward my Lord with the proper attitude, that I approach my Savior with my head bowed in reverence and in humility. Many times, I am rushing through the day just trying to get to the other end of it and when a Christ opportunity presents itself, I acknowledge it. But do I truly acknowledge it with a reverent attitude and a humble heart? Do I really know that Jesus is King? Do I put aside bad attitudes? Does He have to look at them splattered all over me? Do I have to look away from the compassion in His eyes because the compassion that He desires we show to others is being held within by a stingy, death grip? Where would I be without His compassion? I see so many ways that I come before my Lord with a selfish and haughty demeanor…oh, not deliberately by any means. I love my Lord and I desire to have reverence and humility in the presence of The King. I just sometimes let life, this transient, alien, sojourner’s life, get in the way and I tend to forget the majesty of the Nativity.
My prayer, as the world prepares to celebrate the birth of a “King,” is that I will be more aware of the Kingship of my Lord and show Him the reverence and honor that He deserves.
From my home to your home, Merry Christmas! I pray that you know my King and if you do not, that you will desire to be like the wise men, and research and study until you find Him!
… And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11)