I don’t often drive down that road. It’s a dead end, and everyone in our small town knows it’s a dead end. Just a few small houses line the streets. But this week my daughter had a pet sitting job on this quiet dead end street. So twice a day for several days, I’ve driven her there.
I noticed a very elaborate, beautiful, illuminated Nativity scene in the front yard of the last house on the dead end street. Ignorantly, I said aloud to my daughter, “Who would go to so much trouble to set that up if you lived at the end of a dead end street?! Who is going to see it? That’s a lot of work.”
I heard the callous, consumer-mentality in my tone, and I paused.
- How many things do I do for mom knowing she won’t remember in five minutes? And yet, I continue to do those things.
- How many times have I done something for a student or a church member knowing there wouldn’t be any “credit” given, any “points” won. And yet, I feel called to say or do those things and draw deep meaning from those experiences.
- How many times has someone done a kind thing for me without any public fanfare or “credit” (I can name seven or eight this week alone!)
Measuring the value of something by the number of people in attendance or the number of “likes” or “clicks” it gets is how we are conditioned to think. But that’s not how God works. Consider the original Christmas morning: Mary and Joseph alone in a stable, the smell and sound of animals around them, the uncertainty of being away from home during such a tender time. God could have orchestrated the birth of the Christ child with much more fanfare, but that’s not how it happened. The entire life and death and resurrection of Jesus could have been a lot more glamorous, but that would have only distracted us from the truth of the Gospel.
The person or people who live in the house at the end of the dead end street set out a beautiful, elaborate Nativity. Even though it’s a small street, there are more people coming and going from the homes there than would have witnessed the original Christmas morning. But even if not a lot of people see it, maybe there’s a child on that street who has never heard the Christmas story. She or he will see it and ask someone what it means. Maybe there’s a widow or widower on the street who is feeling sad or lonely during this festive season, and they will be comforted by it. Maybe someone will be lost and take a wrong turn and end up at the dead end all frustrated… and they will see the Nativity and be reminded of One whose love and patience and grace and hope is greater than ours. Maybe even a tired, middle-aged preacher will see it and will hear herself say something ignorant, and then pause… and think… and listen… and find Jesus anew.
I’m glad the person or people in the house at the dead end set out their Nativity. It may be the most inspirational thing I’ve experienced this Christmas season. Perhaps we can all reflect what we “put out” when we are living at a dead end. Maybe dead ends are perfect places to share inspiration.
One thought on “The Nativity at the Dead End”
Thanks once again, Kendra, for bringing us up short & making us think WAY beyond ourselves. You’re an inspiration. Keep on writing & helping so many. Love, Shearer
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