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Supporting roles

The First Christmas

By Sue Clark (Flickr: The First Christmas) [CC-BY-2.0 ( or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The events surrounding the Savior’s birth fascinate me. I like to reflect on the personality of the characters in the account, imagining myself as each one. They are all worthy to emulate, but I find it difficult to measure up:

There’s Gabriel—majestic and fierce—delivering Mary’s and Joseph’s messages with authority and reassurance.

Then there’s Mary—innocent and willing—blindly trusting God’s will in her life. Oh, how I wish I had her faith!

Don’t forget Joseph. I imagine him to be a hardworking, quiet man of integrity. Doing what is right above all else. As just a young man, he willingly accepted a huge burden for mankind.

And, of course, Jesus, the God-Babe, is central to the nativity.  I won’t even pretend to resemble that Infant (although crying does sometimes punctuate my days), but we should attempt to mirror His life.

Then there’s Simeon and Anna, although we don’t often think of them in the Christmas story. Both exhibited immense faith to live for one thing—to see the Savior of the World before they died.

We must not forget the angels, the heavenly host, praising God and adding evidence to the message of the Messiah’s birth. Can’t relate here as I am certainly far from an angel (just ask my family)!

I also think of the wise men, possessing earthly wealth and being much too refined for me.

And at last, there are the shepherds, wilderness dwellers, who upon hearing that the Son of God was born, left all their duties to seek the truth. Perhaps the confidence to check out the angel’s words came from being in a group.

When my mind dwells on the Gospel of Luke and the scenes depicted in the first two chapters, as much as I would like to emulate Mary, the only role I’m comfortable in is one of the shepherds. And not just any shepherd, but the lowliest—the smallest, most timid shepherd of all. That shepherd who needed signs—evidence to the truth of the angel’s message (the heavenly host’s praise was a good start).

Traveling to Bethlehem with my fellow shepherds, I would feel secure in numbers, hoping for confirmation. Finally, after gazing with wonder at the fulfillment of prophecy, my devotion would be complete, evident through praise and worship.

That’s similar to how it has been in reality for me. My travels were lengthy and arduous but once I realized the long-suffering love of the Father (culminated in the gift of His Son), I sold out to Him, devoted in my role as His child.

Although the Christ-child is the only essential, perfect character in the nativity scene; the supporting cast connects us to the event. The imperfect players allow each of us to relate to Jesus, to understand His unfathomable love in human context.

And today, as it was more than 2,000 years ago, we all still have important roles in God’s plan, even the lowliest of shepherds, even in our imperfection. We are all called to shine the light where it belongs this Christmas and throughout the year, focused on that most precious of gifts, the Babe in the manger.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told” (Luke 2:20).

In which role of the nativity scene could you see yourself? How are you shining the light on the Word Made Flesh?

Linking up with Faith Jam.



By His grace ≈


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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

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