During the season of Advent there is always an emergence of people’s nativity sets in people’s homes. These nativity displays can be very simple as well as very elaborate. Some are inexpensive and others can be quite expensive. You also see nativity sets outside during the season; wooden ones, inflatable ones, and even live ones.
In our home, we usually display a nativity set that has been handed down by family. As a result, it has been damaged over the years. With the set, there are a couple of three-legged sheep, a donkey with one ear, only two magi, and the rest of the figurines are chipped, or the paint is no longer where it used to be. Yet even with the defects, it is special to our family regardless of its brokenness.
In all truthfulness however, it is probably a good example of those who gathered around the new born Jesus on the first Christmas as well as all of us who worship him today. We all come to Jesus somewhat broken, bruised, and beaten up by life. Some of it is a result of our sinful choices while others are just experiences that we go through that can leave us damaged.
As joyous and happy the Christmas season can be for many, there are also many who are hurting. Over the course of the last year, their lives were disrupted by sickness or death, unemployment or financial struggles, family divisions, inner depression and despair just to name a few of the things that can break us. In fact, there are no perfect lives at a nativity other than a newborn baby in a manger. Perhaps this is why we are drawn towards Jesus. Jesus represents hope for lives that have been damaged by life. The Psalmist would confess, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 24:18) In Jesus God came to us to save us, free us, heal us, and lead us into a greater story.
The nativity tells a story. It tells the story of how God loved us so much that he gave us his son as a gift to everyone who has been broken and beaten down by life. We are all welcome to gather around the manger child who would one day die beaten and broken so that we might not ever have to suffer alone. The coming of Jesus is our hope in our world, even in all its brokenness.