“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame...” Hebrews 12:2

I couldn't believe it! While unpacking my Christmas decorations, I found the Baby Jesus of my nativity scene broken.  Oh, the sadness I felt! That nativity scene was a Christmas gift from my parents the year I was planning my wedding. It had moved far from home with us, as newlyweds, to a place where we would be alone for Christmas. It was something familiar from our childhood as we learned to celebrate Christmas in a new culture and speaking a new language.

This nativity scene saw us busier each year as our family in Christ became a family of our hearts, a family with whom we began to store up precious Christmas memories. It moved with us into five houses. It saw my tears the year I had a miscarriage three days before Christmas. I sat before it in hope the year I was pregnant with my oldest son, and the following year our Christmas card displayed a picture of him holding one of the pieces. I cried while I packed it the Christmas we said “good-bye” to those who had become our family of faith over 13 years, and I unpacked it a week later with excitement in my heart over our adoption into a new church family.

It had come to represent so many parts of our marital history and...Wait!...It had come to represent what? Somewhere along the way, my nativity scene was broken and it happened long before there was a crack in the manger. Somewhere along the way it stopped serving its purpose of fixing my eyes on Jesus. It no longer drew my thoughts to salvation in a box of hay. It had become a sentimental icon of the life I had lived. Broken! So broken, that for a passing moment I wondered if I could find a use for it, even in the absence of the baby in the manger. Not broken, absolutely destroyed!

Maybe the crack in the manger was appropriate. Jesus didn't come to look cute in a perfect manger. He didn't come to walk around enjoying dignity and respect. He wasn't born to look nice and be admired. He came to be crushed for our sin and broken for our failures. He came to be tortured until he was repulsive to look at. He came into a broken world to mend the broken relationship between us and our Father. Maybe a crushed baby is what it took to fix my nativity scene.  After all, a crushed baby is what it took to fix my soul.    

How many people in our world are “unpacking broken nativities” this year? Maybe they don't know the story of our Savior's birth. Maybe their holiday traditions have drown out the angels' song and the shepherds' wide-eyed, breathless message. Maybe their souls are under attack as Satan wields the sledgehammer of temptation and doubt. Pray for them. Pray for your pastors and missionaries. Support Gospel outreach with your offerings, with your energy, and with love for your pastors.  

Merry Christmas! Merry “repaired nativities”! Merry “crushed baby who made your heart whole”!

Jennifer Otto