Bill Ellis: The Nativity that changed the world
In 1963, we bought our first Nativity set from the Gospel Trumpet Company, Anderson, Ind. It was on sale at a reduced price — the camel was missing. It is very simple, nothing unusual or expensive about it. It does belong to our family.
We now have three camels. One Kitty bought on our first trip to The Holy Land. Two others my mother purchased in Israel. The noses of both Mary and Joseph are considerably worn. Their make-up is about gone. When Elizabeth and Mark were very young, they had fun having the two do a lot of kissing — that always causes make-up disruptions.
Elizabeth used to set all the characters in their proper places. You’ve heard the tired old story about the three wise men. I hear every Christmas that they cannot have a live Nativity Scene in Washington, D.C.; or in the capital city of West Virginia. “They cannot find three wise men in either Washington or Charleston.” There are times, however, when it may be more than worn-out humor.
Our Nativity scene is displayed on the mantle in our living room. Emily E. S. Elliott and Timothy R. Matthews combined their talents to give us the words and music for one of our favorite Christmas hymns, “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne.” The first stanza has these words, “Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown When Thou camest to earth for me, But in Bethlehem’s home there was found no room For Thy holy nativity. O come to my heart, Lord Jesus: There is room in my heart for Thee!”
Kitty will sit at her mother’s piano, where she took her first piano lessons, play and sing this song just for me.
Christmas is filled with powerful and precious memories for me, and, I expect, for you. As a child, I had difficulty going to sleep on Christmas Eve.
It may have been the Christmas of 1940 when I received an electric train. Never was a Christmas gift from my friend, Santa, more gladly received. I was wide awake, under the Christmas tree with that new locomotive and all its cars and the red caboose racing around the curves of the track with the throttle wide open and the engine’s big spotlight showing the way.
In June 1944, five months after my 14th birthday, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ, asked Him to come into my heart at the Decota Methodist Church, under the powerful preaching of Pastor Luther B. Mays.
Last Sunday evening, a 50-voice choir, directed by Mandy Bohm, narrated by Pastor Melissa Pratt, two wise men played by John Kincaid and Jacob Stiltner led us in a search for the Christ child. An angel said to them, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). My favorite verse about Christmas.
Christmas is all about Jesus coming into the world and dying for our salvation. Christmas is about the birth of the world’s only Savior.
Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist who can be reached at P.O. Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; phone 304-757-6089.