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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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December 23, 2008

The Sheep are Restless


I know it's almost Christmas because the sheep are getting restless. A whole herd of them have crowded in a semi-circle around the expectant mother, who is propped up on a bench in the corner of the barn.

"Mary is now in labor," Janine, my sixth grader, announced this morning.

Periodically in the days leading up to Christmas, Janine orchestrates scene changes for our manger set. Each day in Advent, it's been our family's tradition to break out a new Playmobil character to add to the crèche. This year, we started out with the Angel Gabriel (which, not so coincidentally, was Janine's role in our church's Christmas pageant) and we've gradually increased the cast to include all of the supporting characters of the Nativity story. For now, the Baby Jesus figure is waiting inside a small golden box that we keep near the top of our Christmas tree. He comes out each year just before we leave for our church's candlelight worship service on Christmas Eve.

It is a joy for me to see how meaningful this tradition has become for my children. Ben, my 8-year-old, took it upon himself to count out the number of days in Advent this year so that we'd have exactly the right number of figures for each day in the season. Jillian kept track of whose turn it was to pick a daily character, and Janine saw to it that each new addition to the manger was placed just so.

When Jesus comes out of his golden box on Christmas Eve, my children will have another year of Advent stories to add to their memories. It's my hope that in the years to come, they'll create their own traditions to pass the faith to their kids, too.  

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