Thursday, December 04, 2008
The "Activity" Set
As is usually the case, my latest spiritual lesson has come via living with Sydney. This past Sunday night, while McKenna and Delaney were in youth activities at church, I took Sydney and her friend, Olivia, down to our church parlor to look at a collection of nativity sets that had been set up for everyone to enjoy.
As we looked at the sets--the girls running quickly from one to the other, not quite letting me enjoy each of them, but then also becoming intrigued by the one that had a well with running water in it--Olivia looked up at me and asked, "Where's the activities?" Sydney piped in: "Yeah, Mom, what activities are we doing?"
I told them that there weren't any activities. We were just enjoying the nativity sets. Then I realized what they meant. They were confusing the word "activity" with "nativity."
In their child's active, playful minds, they thought that there would be some sort of fun activity going on down in the parlor. I laughed a little bit and smiled, always getting a kick out of the things kids say.
Later that night, my family started getting out our Christmas decorations. We set up our tree, Gary battled the lights (and went to the store to get a couple of new strands), and then we decorated the tree with all of our favorite ornaments. After we were done, I told Sydney that she could help me get out my different nativity sets.
We arranged the porcelain set on the dining room table. We got out the more rustic one that would go on the fireplace mantel. We set up the two musical nativities. And we found the one with the teeny-tiny figures, and that was the one Sydney decided she would work on.
Several minutes later, she came to me excitedly. "I got the activity set up, Mom. Come look at it. I just love that activity." I laughed again and tried to correct her again. It's nativity, not activity. And as four-year-olds often do, she just shrugged off my corrections and continued on her way...excited by the tiny baby Jesus and the cute little sheep that knelt beside him.
I hurried through the rest of the evening, wrapping some gifts and setting up a few more decorations.But, as I got ready for bed that night, it hit me. Sydney knew something that I have to be reminded of pretty often. With her vocabulary miscue, she actually had gotten it right.
The Nativity...the message we celebrate at Christmas...is meant to be worshiped. Jesus and God themselves demand worship and praise. But, how often did Jesus tell us that we were supposed to put feet and hands to our faith?
The Nativity really should be more like an activity. A Divine Activity.
Yes, we should sit at the foot of the manger. We should thank God for this unimaginable gift, and we should be in absolute awe. But we should get up off of the floor next to the manger and do something with the nativity season.
Sydney's words have challenged me (as they often do). I'm going to do everything I can to make this Christmas season one that resonates with the joy of the nativity...but, more importantly, that acts itself out. That does something with what Jesus did for me.
I'm going to be active....by reaching out to my family in the kind of attitude that personifies the holidays, and by doing things that stress the "true" side of the season.
I'm going to be active...by being the sort of friend I need to be to those friends who need a helping hand this Christmas.
I'm going to be active...by doing things for strangers, even though I'll never meet them face-t0-face.
I'm going to do my best to turn my Nativity into Activity.