by Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults
What a magical time is Advent, and with so many lovely opportunities to reflect on Emmanuel, God with us. Not only do we have our Advent Devotionals to guide us daily through the scriptures, with poignant vignettes and precious artwork, but also we had our United Methodist Women host Wonders of the Nativity last weekend with over 200 nativity scenes from around the world displayed in the Family Life Hall. On Sunday afternoon I was delighted to have my daughter, Lindsay, and my granddaughter, Ruby, accompany me through the nativity scenes crafted from various mediums. Some were glass, other were ceramic; still others were made from natural materials such as olive wood, corn husks, and gourds. Many of the nativity scenes had been passed down through the generations, and others were purchased as reminders of distant travel destinations. Seeing the display through Ruby’s eyes was an added blessing, as her imagination came alive. She had me read aloud each card indicating where the nativity scene had come from and who had offered it for display. Ruby noticed particular details that I would have missed, without her drawing my attention to them. She marveled at the nativity scenes depicted in snow globes and in music boxes, while I was astonished at the intricate detail and beautiful colors of some of the nativities and the simple, understated beauty of others.
On Sunday evening I felt like Ruby, almost childlike, as my imagination sprang to life when I accompanied a small group of senior adults who were willing to brave the rainy, cold weather for the annual Bethlehem Walk hosted by Mountainview UMC. For twenty-four years this church has given a gift to the community through this interactive presentation. We ambled through a replica of Bethlehem as it might have appeared on the night of Jesus’ birth, sampling the wares, haggling with merchants, paying our taxes, and being prodded along by Roman soldiers. This was no still life, but real life, with the sounds and smells of live animals completing the live nativity scene at the end of the venue. There are multiple ways to experience God’s presence in this Advent season; engage your imaginations with the realization that God is near.