There was a young American family whose company transferred the father for a year tour of duty in South America. The family accompanied him.
Because of the brief duration of the assignment, the company rented them a furnished home. They carried very few of their possessions with them. They did not carry their normal Christmas decorations.
The mother wanted the Christmas to be as normal as possible for the kids, so she went out in the village looking for a manger scene. She could not find a complete manger set. She started buying the various component parts. She found some animals, some adult figures who could pass for wise men, some figures that looked like shepherds, and male and female figures that would be Mary and Joseph.
She had difficulty finding a baby and a manger. She finally found something that looked somewhat like a manger. The baby doll she found to put in it was much smaller than the manger and other figures.
The mother displayed the manger scene on the table where the family ate. The children came in and admired it and were thrilled to see it.
Because each of the figures of the manger scene was bought independently of the others, some of them were disproportionate in size. The youngest son, about six-years-old, looked at the manger scene and his face was filled with disappointment. His dad asked him about his sad face and his comment was, “Christmas doesn’t look right. Look how big the animals and the wise men are. Look how little Jesus is. It is out of proportion.”
That little boy put his finger on the heart of the meaning of Christmas. We get things out of proportion. We put so much time, energy, money and effort on the nonessentials of Christmas that we minimize the essential part of Christmas – the birth of Christ. It’s not too late to adjust proportions!
A survey released this week by Lifeway and USA Today/Gallop indicates that most people regard Christmas as a religious day, but “skip church, omit Jesus, and zero in on the eggnog.”
The survey indicated that 89% of the people will give gifts, 86% will put up a Christmas tree and play holiday music, and 89% will celebrate a meal with family or friends. Only 47% will attend church Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and only 28% will read or tell the Christmas story from the Bible.
May we focus on getting the different parts of Christmas in the right proportion. Don’t get so caught up in what the world has to sell that you miss what God has to give!