A Little Old Man, Not So Lively or Quick

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On our way to Granville on Saturday, we passed a small house with a nativity in the yard, but we passed too quickly for Clara to see it. She was disappointed, but we assured her that we would try to get a good look on our way home.

On our way home, we slowed down by the nativity, but we still couldn’t see it well. We pulled into the driveway, but it was hard for Clara to see from the car seat. We unbuckled her, but she still couldn’t see. Finally, Clara and I got out and walked over to the stable where Baby Jesus lay in the manger with Joseph and Mary nearby. The figures were very old. Though still pretty, the paint was wearing off; and some of them were cracked a little. My guess is that they were purchased in the 1960s.

Two sheep, a cow, and a donkey sat on bales of hay in the back of the stable. Above it was a foil-covered star with layers and layers of duct tape wrapped around it on one side. Wisemen stood outside the stable.

Nativity cropped

As we looked at the scene, an elderly gentleman came out of the house. He told us that we needed to see it at night when it was lit up. He also invited us inside, telling us that they have even more lights inside.

I so wanted to go inside; but we were already a little late for Clara’s afternoon nap, so I declined. As we drove home, I thought about the man and when he had purchased his lighted nativity. I wonder now how many years he has faithfully set it up in his yard.

If you have read these daily encouragements for a long time, you know that I love old hymns. I am reminded of a line from “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux who is said to have written it in 1153 in Latin. In 1830 James W. Alexander translated it into English. The line that comes to mind as I think about this little old man is in the sixth verse:

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

In this one way (and perhaps in many, many others) this little old man faithfully shows his love for Jesus by displaying and lighting up his antique nativity scene along a country road between Gainesboro and Granville, Tennessee.

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man
and teaching every man with all wisdom,
so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Colossians 1:28

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