Light and the Live Nativity

the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.

Matthew 4:16   NIV

I clasped my grandson’s gloved hand, and together we navigated the dark entryway of our church building and pushed open the heavy main door. Normally the main entrance is well lit inside and out, and a greeter opens the heavy door as people enter, but on this night the door was untended.

The sun had set two hours ago, and heavy rain deepened the darkness outside. We left the brightly lit, warm, and safe fellowship hall to walk around the church parking lot and view the stations of our annual live nativity.  Cardboard covered the fellowship hall windows, and the lights of the main entrance were switched off so that visitors weren’t distracted by the activity inside or stray lights when doors open and shut.

We stood on the wet sidewalk, waiting for our eyes to adjust to the darkness and watched the “traffic shepherd” instruct the visitors to dim or douse their car lights and steer their vehicles through the parking lot on a path laid out by rope lights and candles in emptied grape juice bottles.


The first scene was of sheep and their shepherds, who were gathered around a fire, pointing toward the stable.IMG_8710.JPG

When no cars were coming, we crossed the tiny stream of lights and splashed through the rivulets of rain to stand near the shepherds. One sheep bleated an alto baaa and a sheep from the as-yet unseen manger scene responded with a bass baaa.


We hurried across the parking lot, back toward the main station of the live nativity, but we had to wait near pine trees while cars parked, paused, and pondered the manger scene. Parking lights from the cars reflected in the rain-splashed blacktop of the parking lot.


We waited for a lull in traffic near an evergreen and were showered by coat-soaking raindrops falling from the tree, until we could safely walk in front of the manger.


We paused briefly at the nativity scene–the rain was still falling–but long enough to smell wet wool, hear the donkey pull on his tether, and see the baby resting in a feed trough.

A baby who was born one inky night to be the light of us all.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.   John 8:12   NIV

I led my grandson back into the chatter and bright lights and steaming soup of the fellowship hall. I wonder what will he remember years from now? What part of the Nativity story will resonate with his five-year-old heart?

I went outside again later with my camera tucked under my coat because the live nativity, for me this year, was about light:

Light that comes into darkness, the darkness of our hearts, souls, and minds,

Light that creates beautiful reflections when shining on the seemingly insignificant events in history (and their modern-day recreations), events such as a baby being born, gifts being offered, and the baaing of shepherds’ flocks. The sheep calling to sheep was really deep calling to deep, another kind of reflection.


The live nativity reminded me that even tiny lights produce significant reflections.


We always invite the viewers of the live nativity to park their cars and come inside, to have a bowl of soup, or to wear a costume and be a part of the nativity recreation.

We invite them to come in from the dark and cold, to come in to the light and fellowship, but few do. (Eyes accustomed to darkness should find it easy to enter the church building.) I hope you have seen the light shining through cracks in opened doors this Christmas season.  I hope you have seen God’s light reflecting into a dark world. I hope you have left the “dark and stormy night” to bask in the light.


He is calling you . . . and me. Let’s come in from the inky, dripping night,  leave our sodden shoes at the door, and celebrate the light this Christmas. Let’s go inside where it’s bright and warm and savor a bowl of hot soup.

that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.   1 Peter 2:9

My prayer for us all this Christmas day:

May we recognize Jesus as the Light of the World.

May we let His light illuminate our everyday lives.

May we reflect that light in a dark world.


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2   NIV


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all the good photos are by Barb Briggs


Posted on December 25, 2015, in Devotional and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Merry Christmas, Constance! What a lovely thought-provoking post — good food for thought, the effects of light on darkness and the spiritual parallels. Reflections teach us so much (the ones you can see). I think all the photos are good 🙂 I enjoyed them as always. ~Joyce

  2. Beautiful Constance,
    I love how it was in the dark that Christ arrived and brought the light to this world. Awesome.
    Please link this one today at Word of God Speak – it speaks so much.
    I am following you from Jennifer Dukes Lee.

    • Thank you, Janis! I understand Christ as light coming into the world so much more for having experienced the “dark and stormy night.”

      And thanks for the invite/reminder to link at Word of God Speak. It was on my to-do list.

      May you find joy and peace in these last days of the Christmas season.

  3. Yes! As we live in this dark world, it is the Light of Christ that can shine through us as we stand firm for the One Who is the Light. Thank you for sharing this poignant post with the world.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda
    Visiting from Janis’ today.

    • Linda, thanks for reading and leaving your kind encouragement. I am glad you reminded me (on your blog) of the verses in John 1. Verse 5 in the MSG: The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
      May your Christmas season continue to be full of blessings.

  4. Thank you!! You shared beautifully! Grabbed a lot of hearts and a lot of intention. Bless you!

  5. This is beautiful, Constance! The message of invitation and light in the midst of darkness drew my heart into your words line by line. Thank you!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Pam! These dark, cold days of December and the welcome, bright light of dawn illustrate so well the coming of Christ, the Light.

      (Sorry that illustration doesn’t work so well for readers in the southern hemisphere.)

      • Well said! You’re right about the southern hemisphere. It can be easy to forget that. Even though it has been so far a much warmer December than usual in Ohio, it has meant more gray overcast days. I actually prefer it to be a bit colder and snowy because the sun invariably comes out after the snow has stopped!

      • We have experienced that same wet and gloomy weather, instead of more typical for the Midwest frost, snow, and subsequent sunshine. My solitary light beside my easy chair shine so brightly these days of early sunsets. We live with the hope of heaven, the hope Christ in our hearts, and the hope of spring regardless of the current weather!

  6. This is beautiful, Constance. The pictures are lovely. I love a live nativity scene but rarely see them anymore. I especially connected with the line, ” …that even tiny lights produce significant reflections”. It only takes a small amount of light and a small amount of faith (think mustard seed!) to reflect the great light of Jesus to others. Sometimes we forget that even our small glow is significant and can be seen by others.

  7. This is one of my favorite scripture verses. Beautiful message here.

  8. Beautiful words and photos. I’m blessed to be following you at Holly’s this week. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!

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