Last night I had the incredible privilege to watch teenagers and kids lead a night of worship on our farm…
At first glance—you might assume these are just kids layered in robes and wings acting out a scene…Christmas hymns being sung and hot chocolate warming the crowd. At first glance—it is all of these things.
But as the one who knows these little friends and their families personally—I can barely make it through the evening without a lump in my throat knowing all He has done…believing in hope all He will do through the layers of those walking to Bethlehem.
I think about those coming—in this day and age our culture tells us to hustle and life fills our calendars often with watching others perform rather than stepping into deep worship with our community and simple saying we need each other. Truly community is a gift from the Lord He has given us for our walk to Bethlehem.
Because you see—really that’s where each of us…deep in our hearts knows is the direction we want to walk in…toward Jesus…where He ALREADY is and to simply join Him in all of His glory.
We live in a culture full of pictures posted…some times telling us what our deal should look like, but when we ask the question: “What direction does that path take me?”—maybe the answer isn’t always to Bethlehem.
Sweet friends—THAT is direction we are asked to walk in. Those also going in toward Jesus… “in the Bethlehem direction” are the people you need to look for AND follow AND encourage to trail blaze behind you when they are tired or forget the way. Some of us might have to pitch tents in different places in different seasons, but the direction should all really point the same.
At first glance our nativity might have looked like children without a care with visions of sugar plums—but each of us carries much on our way there. When we live deeply with community we start to not only know one another’s stories but to show up and caravan together reminding one another to keep going no matter what. There will be times you literally have to pick each other up—maybe even times you let things go from your loss so you can even carry another. This is what going to Bethlehem looks like. And it is such a sweet reminder this Christmas to just keep going.
Last night’s nativity was full of stories that ask us to keep walking toward Bethlehem together too. Our nativity isn’t normal if there ever was such a thing. Mary isn’t holding baby Jesus in our nativity because the angel has cared for him since his birth. Foster care will soon send this brave one home trusting Jesus and His angels to keep caring for him. So I had to smile as I watched the angel carry him in instead of Mary and care for him throughout the night. Angels will guard him.
One of our precious singer’s lost her grandfather hours before she sang last night. I asked her precious mom if she was sure her dear one wanted to lead worship. Her response was that she had been disappointed her grandfather was too sick to come to hear her lead—and now he would watch from heaven with real angels joining in! She wouldn’t miss it for the world! Wow. Amazing to think he is celebrating Jesus face to face!
Our precious brave wisemen led the donkeys—because well let me first blow your mind for a moment and tell you historically wisemen most likely were not on camels anyway nor was Jesus a baby when they finally arrived. Things aren’t always what they seem are they? And these sweet boys leading the donkeys in have each seen a parent bravely into the arms of Jesus—now are walking together arm and arm as friends toward Jesus too. I have had the privilege watching their hearts bravely lead with compassion for the world around them. No one else could pull the strength of the donkeys who sense their confidence, and those boys nurtured crowd fearing equine because they are strong. I see them rising and continuing to point friends and all those who know them toward Bethlehem. I was so proud.
The other girls leading have also known family loss in the recent year—and they keep walking and even finding deep JOY as they look up. I could recognize each of their giggles with my eyes closed.
More than half the shepherds were born in different countries—and they bravely learned a new language and family in recent years. As I listening to each grab the mic and recite their appointed verses in scripture of Luke 2–I couldn’t help but remember also how FAR each of them have already come. Each of them now in families also walking in the direction of Bethlehem.
Their stories remind me full redemption doesn’t happen until we see Jesus face to face BUT there are miracles, hope and healing every day along our way. We can’t forget on this journey how far we have already come with His hand guiding us—and to keep walking trusting Him to carry us.
Mans community. We need each other. It some times takes a bit to find the community of believers we will caravan to Bethlehem with. Some times the community changes a bit as different friends stake their tents in places needing to grow, rest or stay longer. Others we will travel the long haul beside.
But the biggest thing of all—last night reminded me that we don’t have to ever travel this beautiful journey alone. He just calls us to come, to be faithful followers and to keep walking toward Him…to Bethlehem.