Friday, December 09, 2005

A Christmas Tradition

Since I've been a pastor, I've shared this Christmas Story with my congregation:

First Christmas
Two Babes in A Manger
In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government - run program were in the orphanage. They relate following story in their own words:
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for the orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving at Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and the orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn - out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll - like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.
The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, [I] was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called the for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at his completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately - until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha started to ad - lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I had no mamma and I had no papa , so I didn’t have a place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But l wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good gift?” and Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.” “So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him - for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him - FOR ALWAYS.I’ve learned that it’s not what you have in life, but who you have in your life that counts.

As sent to me a few years back.
Pastor Art


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the story, Christmas is all about Children anyway isn't it...starting with the most holy, humble Child...for unto a us a child is born

9:59 AM  
Blogger Maryellen said...

It is times like this, this season, when I most miss being a Pastor's Wife, with a "church" of our own. We hope and pray that a door will open soon to a ministry where we can fully utilize the gifts and experiences that the LORD has given us over the years. Our current pastor said a while back "you've been waiting at a red light, but get ready, the light is about to turn green." hear us reving up our engines...but we won't jump the gun.
from Pastor Art's wife,

11:41 AM  

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