Every year I fill my manger scene with more images that bring a fuller picture of Jesus' life. It is not your normal Christmas display. I don't have a stable outside of an Inn, so I set it on a shelf beneath a light where an angel from my mom's childhood looks over the Holy Family in Bethlehem. In the background a book of watercolors painted in the 1800's of the Holy Land, give the shepherd and his flock a hillside in Jerusalem to graze on as he makes his way to see Jesus. There are gifts of Frankincense and Myrrh, olive oil from Galilee, stones from Jerusalem, water from the Jordan River, shells from the Red Sea and a worn smooth stone from the Emmaus Road. Among the gifts, there is an alabaster jar, and a wooden jar from Lebanon that holds a petrified pine cone from the Cedars that grew there. In the corner the wise men bring their camel past an Egyptian pyramid, and through a herd of African elephants.
A small olive wood cross stands silently reminding me that this is the destination of the baby Jesus, and a large square-head nail tells the story of pain our sin cost Him. At His feet a shekel points to betrayal, and next to it a widows mite reminds me that the little I have is a fortune when used for His glory.
A few years ago John added something else--green plastic soldiers in combat, a sad image of the constant fighting in the Middle East. Join us as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for our soldiers far from home. God Bless you and Merry Christmas.