Sunday, December 18, 2011

Such a Strange Way to Save the World

 Our neighbor had a party last night.  She gathered friends, family, animals, and singers to re-enact the Nativity.  My three children had parts...two angels and a shepherd.
Mason wanted a 'staff,' so he found this limb to carry.  Later, I had to send him outside, as he dragged this small tree through Ms. Nancy's house.
Most of the characters are played by neighbors or by the grandchildren of our neighbors.  We have a large field at the entrance of our driveway, so the story begins there with shepherds watching their flock.  The angel appears to tell them of the great news.  A few of the smaller angels accompany him.
The angels perform to 'Hark, the Herald Angels Sing!'  Clearly, the younger ones don't remember the steps, but hopefully the message of the night is taking root.
The wise men deliver gifts and are accompanied by animals like the ones that would have been present on that special night over 2000 years ago.
 In addition, to the live nativity, carolers and hand bell players from Nancy's church performed.  She plays the harp, so that was part of the entertainment, as well.  Later, that evening, an Elvis impersonator sang all of the famous hits.  We loved this!  You can see my two angels sitting behind 'Elvis.'  I was dying to get up and dance with him, but of course, the embarrassment to my children would have been too much!
 Nancy decorates twenty live Christmas trees every for every room in the house and for the porches, too.  The largest tree is approximately 20 feet.  It is truly like a fairytale to walk through her house.  Her friends and neighbors help in the process, which begins soon after Halloween.  
I took pictures of all the nativities she has collected. They are amazing; handmade by artisans from all around the world.  I started my own collection of unique nativities because of these.
Here you can see some of the wild animals from faraway places.  Even they are decorated for the event.  The doctor's carriage belonged to her great-grandfather and hangs from her ceiling.  I am guessing it is from the mid-to late 1800's...amazing.  You can also see some of the masks she has collected from around the world.  Each has its own cultural story.
Nancy is in the top left photo with my girls.  There aren't any playmates living near us, so Mason will often go to Ms. Nancy's to play checkers.  At Christmastime, she takes the children shopping to buy gifts for me!  She loves my children as if they were her own grandchildren.  Nancy is so gracious to share her blessings with others, and yet she does a tremendous job of keeping the real meaning of Christmas alive. 
Santa Claus arrived at 8:30 pm with a gift for every child.  Mason took it upon himself to share the gospel with Santa and to inform him that Christmas is really not about the gifts.  However, my youngest daughter believes Christmas is all about her and all about the presents!

I took hundreds of pictures to make a book for Nancy of the party.  Each year, she says it is her last one.  I can't imagine what all she has to do to prepare for this event.  No detail is ever spared.  While I was taking pictures, the camel came and stood right over me.  He didn't exactly smell good and I was worried about what might fall from him.  The donkey and the sheep were present, too and as I looked into their eyes and took in the sight and the smells, it occurred to me.  These were the first eyes that our Lord would have seen.  These were the first smells that His little nose would have smelled...the sight and smell of animals.  I like to think it was a bit of a utopia for Him in that manger, but the truth is, it was not.  It was cold and smelly and probably loud.  As the reality sinks in, I am reminded of the song, 'This is Such a Strange Way to Save the World.'  It is not how He deserved to come, but I am incredibly grateful that He did.  The humble way in which He came, humbles me.  I can barely wrap my mind around that He was born to die for me...for us.  I am so undeserving of this King born in a manger, and yet, He finds me worthy.  He finds you worthy.  Like the song, I ask, 'Why me?'  I am a sinner with a wretched heart, so why me?  I hope you can reflect on what it all means this season and that the truth of His birth and His surroundings will touch your heart, too.

I'm sure he must have been surprised
At where this road had taken him
Cause never in a million lives
Would he have dreamed of Bethlehem

And standing at the manger
He saw with his own eyes
The message from the angel
Come to life, and Joseph said
Why me, I'm just a simple man of trade
Why Him, with all the rulers of the world
Why here, inside this stable filled with hay
Why her, she's just an ordinary girl
Now I'm not one to second guess
What angels have to say

But, this is such a strange way to save the world
To think of how it could have been
If Jesus had come as He deserved
There would have been no Bethlehem
No lowly shepherds at His birth

But, Joseph knew the reason
Love had to reach so far
And as he held the Savior in his arms
He must have thought

Now I'm not one to second guess
What angels have to say
But, this is such a strange way
A Strange way
This is such a strange way
To save the world

Written by Dave Clark, Mark Harris and Don Koch
Merry Christmas to you all!

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Lori said...

What a wonderful, lovely thing for her to do. And how large is her house, I think I spied a full sized carriage hanging from the ceiling.

At The Picket Fence said...

What an incredible event! And, what a special lady to do all of that and to cherish your kiddos. :-)
We took our kids to a live Nativity the other night and it was so incredible! Their eyes were just so wide taking it all in and my youngest walked right up to pet the Camel. We make it out to be so neat and tidy and the reality was so different! Thank you for sharing this with all of us today. Merry Christmas my friend!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful party. I love all the decorations. She looks and sounds like a marvelous person. I'm so happy you had such a great time.

Sarah said...

What a wonderful idea and amazing party! Merry Christmas! :-)

kayce hughes said...

What a wonderful time!

It's me said...

Beautiful post !! and joy...merry


Chandra Chinnis said...

What a wonderful God loving woman Nancy must be. That looks like a great time was had by all. I wish I lived by you!!!!!!!! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've been singing that song since I read your post's title.
Wonderful post. Glorious Lord.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet lady Nancy is..You are truly blessed to have a neighbor like her..

Andrea said...

Looks like a wonderful time!! My 4 year old daughter is playing a sheep in her nativity play at preschool this week and she's sooo excited (although she said the shepard is a boy, which she's not entirely sure about hehe)

Unknown said...

OH my goodness!!! How incredible is all of this! What fun for your family! And that song is one of my VERY favorites! It is SOOOO beautiful! Merry Christmas!

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