One of my favorite Christmas memories happened when my husband, Mike, pastored a church on the southside of Indianapolis. Every year, the church had a live nativity. Adults and children were able to participate in this ministry to the community. People signed up for half hour shifts which lasted from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
The parsonage was right next to the church, so we had the responsibility to feed the two sheep who were part of the scene. The children looked forward to having these animals every year. A couple of the men built a pen next to the church where the sheep could stay sheltered from the wind. One year the children decided that the sheep needed names. They decided on "Bee" and "Baa". We took pictures of the sheep and of the children with their favorite animals. We talked about "Bee" and "Baa" all year. Of course, we couldn't tell if the same sheep returned every year, but that didn't matter, because they were still "Bee" and "Baa".
I was Mary in December, 1984, when I was eight months pregnant with Anna, the youngest daughter. Mike, was Joseph, and Sarah, the oldest daughter was an angel. I could really identify with Mary that year. Then there was the year that Mike was Joseph, I was a woman passing by the manger, and the children were angels. These were fun days, especially since each shift concluded with cookies and hot chocolate in the church basement.
All of us looked forward to the live nativity each year and our participation helped make the events in Bethlehem very real and personal.
Jacquie Reed is a spiritual director, Stephen Minister, in Fishers, Indiana.