Two Churches. Centuries apart, but exactly the same.
It didn’t hit me until I sat down after a long day of un-decorating, packing, and storing. Only after I had finished the fun of redecorating the mantle for mid-winter, did I allow myself to finally sit down.
Looking across the den into the hallway, I noticed the nativity. Still out, the last to go away for the next eleven months, was still sitting on the oak chest. Next to it, I had carefully placed a new favorite: a small replica of an old church still located in the high country of western North Carolina. The church is linked to our family history, and we were so excited when we found this replica in a gallery in Asheville. It took up residence in our home and it appeared each Christmas on our mantle. As I had lifted it down, I knew the best place to put it for now was beside the nativity. It was safe there.
Looking at the creche and what it symbolized, I realized that it is really not that different from my church, from today’s church, or at least it shouldn’t be.
The nativity and the church are both places where people gathered.
Scripture tells us that the shepherds followed the star according to the angels’ instructions and it led them to the manger. (Luke 2:8-20) I like to think they may have picked up a few friends along the way. It would be hard to keep something like what they had just witnessed a secret!
The nativity and the church are both places we worship.
Whether we lift our hands, fall to our knees, or sit in stunned amazement, we worship the King of kings just as the shepherd, the angels, and Mary and Joseph did that holy night.
The nativity and the church are both all about Jesus.
Over two thousand years later, He’s still the King. It doesn’t matter how big your sanctuary is; His was tiny. Missions and Bible studies, and events and programs are all good, but He is great and greatly to be praised and the only one Who came to save us from our own sins. It is only and always about Jesus.
I hope I remember this next Sunday, as I gather with my own church family. I hope I think of the shepherds and the others as they followed the star. As I walk into the sanctuary I hope I seek Him. Two churches, the brick building I call my church— and the nativity. Centuries apart, but so very much alike. Come, let us adore Him.