I believe that often some of the best programs capture the voice of our women as they share with one another. Personal experiences are……. personal. When our women share their own lives and loves- connection happens that might not otherwise. For the leader, this is also an opportunity to “manage” a program rather than being solely responsible for all of the details. This is one such program.
Many of your women will have Nativity Sets. (Some may not, while others have several). Invite women to bring and display their Creches, or collections that have “meaning” to them for various reasons. “Meaning”: This is open to interpretation, isn’t it? Your planning may be as simple or elaborate as you choose….do the Creches become centerpieces, or are they displayed on tables? Will this be a quiet time of storytelling, or will it be part of a larger program?
Sometimes the women’s stories will be about what the “Advent: Coming of the Savior” means to them personally. Their story may be focused on the person that gave them the treasure. The story may bring back memories, or remind them of humorous family moments.
Individuals can share in small groups around tables, or representative stories can be told for the whole group. Create Community. Before you leave- form a circle-hold hand and pray for one another – and for others.
Devotion: A Shared Nativity Story from the Gilger Family:
“If you ever want to see Jesus again, you’ll pay the ransom!”
My children are all forces of nature. Strong, independent world changers. I must admit that they also possess a quick wit that has always led to memorable stories at family gatherings. Like every year we decorated our tree, hung the garland and the lights, added stockings and snowmen, and laid out the Nativities. Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wisemen all took their places. Hot chocolate was made, Christmas music played and our 4 children acted like….. well,…. children. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m afraid midst the perfect moments there were dirty dishes. a few broken bulbs, and tinsel everywhere. Hallmark Cards never quite catch the delightful humaness of family! My husband and I chose to relax into the beauty of it all as the children asked to bring their blankets down to sleep in this place of magic. Dishes and deep cleaning would wait until the kids were asleep. *IF they would actually fall asleep!
As a Salvation Army officer there is a pace of Christmas busy-ness that can rob you of energy and inspiration. The years taught us some lessons about time and memories for family and how to creatively integrate them. There were days we could have won awards for best parents ever and others where we barely crawled into bed at night. It is never easy, but we press on – for we are the visual representation of Christ- and this we cannot forget. See the best- Love well. Forgive one another often, and hold onto Jesus.
This same year our children- (we still do not know exactly WHO to this day) decided to give us a Christmas illustration that we would retell over and over. That first day after the decorations went up- our “Baby Jesus” went missing. In the days to follow strange things were in store for us. One day there was a little green Star Wars Yoda lying in the manger. Another, a ransom note that we were to leave $25 behind wisemen #2 for the safe return of the Savior of the World. There were days when there were keys in the manger… cupcakes, the lambs, and the angels took their turns. I suppose it was their own version of “Elf on the Shelf”… Finally, on Christmas Day – Baby Jesus appeared! We were all waiting for it, though there was a small part of me that wondered if maybe he had been LOST forever.
Jesus is here! Jesus is here! So often we replace him with things, and “stuff” and activities. So often we are sidetracked by life, and circumstances and we are captives of our exhaustion and emotions. Jesus is central to Salvation. He is our strength. Our Protector. Our lifesong. Hold onto that.
Remember Jesus in practical ways every day. Live your life and love others in a way that is compassionate. We are responsible for our own attitudes and our words. Others actions are not a reason for us to compromise ours.
Read Luke 2:1-20 and close in prayer.