every december for the past three years we have had a living nativity at our house with friends and their kids. it has evolved year to year, but it consistently involves mayhem. yesterday afternoon we had 23 kids and 23 adults (yes, that is 46 people!) packed into our house, wearing makeshift costumes and re-enacting the story of baby jesus being born.
the angel gabriel appearing to mary to give her the news that she will have a baby
(i was narrating, so missing some significant portions of the story via photos. fast forward to everyone leaving the first inn where the innkeeper rejected them to find another inn for mary, joseph, and their donkey. innkeeper #1 was so harsh rejecting that joseph and an angel cried. hey, i would've cried if i was that pregnant and i had no place to give birth much less sleep!)
action shot between first and second inn...
inn #2: rejected again by the innkeeper
hoping for somewhere to lay their heads yet again.
"there's no room here but you can head way back there and rest in my stable if you can't find anywhere else"
we tromped through the mud, past the chickens, and headed to the stable, where after a lot of painful labor, mary gave birth to her baby
baby jesus was accurately crying & inaccurately very pale looking
mary and one of the josephs, with one of the wise kings in the foreground (even though he didn't really show up for a while)
singing a few christmas carols in the midst of the activity
another one of the josephs
the wise men make their very long trek to bring their gifts to the christ child
once we were done we headed inside for dinner &
to decorate nativity shaped christmas cookies
it was a mass of confusion and people, and probably, that is a lot more how it really happened than the nice neat story we are used to telling and retelling. it's easy to forget that this little baby, this supposed king, was born to parents in a most unusual place- not a powerful metropolitan center, but a tiny, grimy, forgotten spot on the map. somehow acting out these ancient stories as loosely as we did, fumbling over who and what happens next, missing verses of the carols, kids wandering around or wanting to be in the center of everything, looking expectantly at each other for what happens next...it all felt very authentic. knee deep in the mess and chaos we discover what the nativity is really about - the beginning of a new kind of story full of unexpected chapters, a lot of mystery and so much hope.