nativityEvery year I put out the Holy Family in my front yard. I made the wooden cutouts when my oldest daughter was first born. I had great ideas of building a whole nativity scene but as you know life gets in the way and the three remain.

For the last several years I’ve talked about not putting them out. Why? Well they are getting kind of old, weathered and fragile. In fact, one year I was slow in putting them out and my daughters couldn’t believe it. Where was the baby Jesus? What had I done with the family? The neighbors got in the act as well. People were stopping and asking where was the little family? How come it wasn’t up this year? Did I need help?

In this era of dueling lights, and Christmas sales before Thanksgiving it just seems three little figures wouldn’t matter that much… but they do. I have a neighbor who immigrated here from Russia many years ago. Every morning he walks several miles and always strolls by my house. I have shared lemons from my yard when he stops and he has brought me goats milk from his son’s farm.

One day he was standing just staring at the cutouts and not moving. I came out and asked if he was okay. Daniel then said, “When I was a small boy in Russia we were not allowed to celebrate Christmas in public. Dear friend you cannot know the joy that Holy Family brings me each morning during these Holy days. Can you believe it? Jesus out in the open where everyone can see.”

Today fellow pilgrims on the path. Take a moment to bring our Savior “out in the open.” Maybe bow your heads in a restaurant for a moment of prayer. Pause and help someone hurting, maybe put up a manger scene for everyone to see. “O come, O come, Emmanuel: and ransom captive Israel.”