You may remember the story from a few years back about a Gadsden church that had it’s Nativity scene looted. It was in the newspaper and all over the nightly news as a sad sign of the times we live in.
The thieves walked away with figures of Mary, Joseph and a wise man, as well as a camel. They also stole the exhibit’s centerpiece–a figure of the Christ child.
A cardboard sign in the shed covering the Nativity scene which read “Put Christ in your Christmas and in your life” was not taken.
Bethel United Baptist Church had displayed the same Nativity scene annually, without incident, for nearly forty years. Needless to say, church members were disheartened by the yule-tide pilfering.
“It broke my heart to think someone would steal something like that from our church,” the church’s custodian, J.T. Hollingsworth, was quoted in The Birmingham News.
Now, it would be easy to use this story to illustrate the depravity of our society, that some dastardly individual would stoop to such a low as to steal Jesus and Joseph and Mary–and a camel–from a church’s outdoor manger scene.
However, I’m not sure that many of us don’t do the same thing, figuratively if not literally, each year. When we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season–decorations, shopping, parties, and busy holiday schedules–and leave Jesus out of His birthday celebration, are we not also “stealing” Jesus from our Christmas?
So once again, like the sign left over a vacated manger scene in Gadsden, Alabama, let me encourage you to “Put Christ in your Christmas.” It may be a cliche, but it’s still true.
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday–morning and evening–as we celebrate the glorious birth and life of our Lord. He is Immanuel, God with us. May He be with you today.