"Hey, can you preach on Saturday?"
I looked at the text message and stopped in my tracks. Gasp. What day is it today? Do I have time to pull together a talk? What is the topic? I should know what the topic is ... I was in the planning meeting....
I text Nati, my friend and director of the children's ministry at the AR Dream Center, "Yikes! Um, not sure about that!!! What's the topic??"
She texts me back, "It's Jesus birth... It's the Bible lesson on God loving them so much that He sent His Son!"
I relax as I realize it's Wednesday, and I can definitely make time to pull together a talk on that. I mean, Jesus' birth, I could tell that story without any prep work.
But it's me, and I take ministering to children pretty seriously, so of course, the next day, I sit down with my chronological Bible and read the various passages describing the events surrounded Christ's birth.
I consider the gravity of my little talk. And decide I'll share the story from Mary's perspective in costume. I rehearse in the kitchen the day after while homemade granola bakes in the oven and the smell of chocolate wafts through the room.
I'm one of those method actors. I put myself there where my character is. I consider everything surrounding the scene and go back into my character's history.
Standing on the white tiles of my kitchen, I picture straw and hay surrounding my feet. A goat to my right laying down. A small lamb nestled into a sheep. The smell of animal waste hangs in the night air. And then the baby cries. Mary's tired. They'd barely made it into the cave before the baby had begun to crown. No one could spare even a corner of their home. Bethlehem was so crowded because of the census. It's dark in the cave, and Joseph has gone to get water. It's just Mary and the Baby. Just Mary and the Savior of the World ... with ten little fingers and ten little toes. With eyes that look like hers. Men's voices are getting closer, they sound excited, something about angels singing... And as she picks up the Baby to re-swaddle Him and the gravity of the story is simplified ...
He must have loved us a lot to come to us this way...
The timer goes off, and I take the granola out of the oven.
Saturday morning I sit on the floor with four little girls at the AR Dream Center and tell them about the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth. With bright eyes they listen. And when I ask little Tiffany, "Isn't that crazy?" she shakes her head. I ask, "No, it isn't crazy?" And she just looks at me confidently and shakes her head, and I realize I chose the wrong word... "It was amazing." And she nods and quietly whispers, "Yes, it was amazing."
Amazing love. That's what it was.