A Time to Correct and a Time to Be Silent

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As I mentioned recently, some of our grandchildren have been helping me decorate our house for Christmas. Our nine-year-old grandson had already set up three nativities before he came back on Tuesday to finish one he began but had not finished when it was time for me to take him home. He thoughtfully completed it.

Our first tiny nativity, which I bought from Lillian Vernon when our children were small so that they would be able to play with it.

Then our grandson wanted to set up another one and then another and another. I had told his mama that he could be finished (with the first one) in about ten minutes. Instead I set aside the task I had been planning to do and got a nice long one-on-one visit with him. It was a precious visit.

I don’t collect expensive things, but I like to keep my eye out for interesting nativity sets here and there. When you’ve been married for 47 years—48 this coming Tuesday— you have lots of time to collect them and the cost is spread out over a long time. Some of ours were made in China. Some came from after-Christmas sales. Others have been made around the world. I have found them in interesting places, especially in fair trade shops or craft fairs. Today I’d like to take you on a tour.

As I told his mama, our grandson didn’t set up any of them the way I have before, but I loved watching him think about how to arrange each piece. Sometimes he would look at me and ask for advice or talk about why he was doing things the way he was.

Our grandson made Jesus the focus. He even brought some of the animals very close and sometimes they, too, are looking at the Baby. Because I know that the wise men visited Jesus in a house and likely a long time after the day or night He was born, I often set them apart and often put them on the eastern side of a shelf or table. Our grandson didn’t do that. He nestled them around the manger. He was careful to place the angels and shepherds away from the manger, telling me that he did that because they were in a field.

I believe that knowing the exact facts of Scripture is very important. However, I figure that our grandson has many years to learn more details about the wise men. He knew that they gathered around Jesus. He knew the angel came to the shepherds in their field. He knew that the most important person in the scene was the Baby Jesus.

I didn’t want this to be a time to correct, but a time to watch and appreciate.

We must teach our children the truth, and we must also honor their tender hearts. Sometimes we correct; sometimes we watch. During a recent visit to a restaurant, I ordered the soup and sandwich special which was featured on a poster by the door. I called it a duo. The server, who had already not been particularly welcoming or friendly, corrected me, saying it was a duet. I wondered why she needed to correct me. Did it matter? I often notice people correcting others in similar ways and wonder why. We all goof up in little ways and big ways. We all also need encouragement. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything . . .”

And now for that tour . . .

Our second nativity, purchased many years ago, perhaps in some type of big box store.
A gift from a former next door neighbor. It had belonged to her but she knew I would enjoy it.
From the Philippines. Purchased last year in a gift shop.
A gift from a friend.
Perhaps from Dollar Tree or a similar store.
From a source similar to the one above.

These are others of our nativity scenes. Our grandson’s sister set up the first two and I placed the others.

This is a small one in our small and inexpensive Christmas village, collected over the last four decades.
A gift from that same next door neighbor. Her daughter who had passed away made it.
Made in El Salvador. I purchased this in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
Small nativity scene in an eggshell. I purchased it at a fair trade shop. It was made in Peru.
The two on either side are from Uganda. I bought them at a craft fair in Texas. The middle scene came from a fair trade shop. It is from Bangladesh.

I think we should prayerfully consider when to correct and when to be silent as we prepare to gather with our loved ones for Christmas. All of our relatives and friends need to know the truth. They also need us to love them unconditionally. Let’s rejoice in this Christmas season with patience and forbearance and kindness, remembering that there is a time for everything.

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; 
love does not brag, it is not arrogant. 
It does not act disgracefully,
it does not seek its own benefit;
it is not provoked,
does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, 
it does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth; 
it keeps every confidence, 
it believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7




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