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A Holiday Witness

When your children ask in time to come,?What do these stones mean to you?? then you shall tell them.  Joshua 4:6-7 NRSV

“Wow! What a big box. What on earth is Aunt Helene sending us?”

My husband and I, married just six years, examined the massive package the postman had just delivered. Opening it with anticipation, we found, snuggled in clouds of tissue, a resting cow, the Wise Men’s camel, Mary’s donkey, the Magi with their gifts, the shepherds and their sheep, an angel, Joseph, Mary, the manger, and Baby Jesus – a complete and imposing ceramic crèche. Aunt Helene had lovingly painted each piece a soft ivory. 

What a striking witness to our Christian faith amid our more traditional Christmas décor! Even more thrilling, it furnished unique props as we retold the Christmas story to our young children. The Wise Men and their camel were placed far away “in the east.” The shepherd and their sheep were “in the hills,” nearer, but not at the stable. Mary, Joseph, and the donkey were at a distance too. The manger, of course, was empty. 

Each day throughout Advent, Mary and Joseph moved a bit closer and finally arrived at the stable on Christmas Eve when the Baby Jesus appeared. The angel visited the shepherds, who then made their way to the manger, stayed awhile, and returned to the hills. About this time, the Wise Men started their trek, arriving on January 6, Epiphany. 

For forty-five years, in five different homes, this beautiful nativity set has remained a major part of our Christmas decorations, a testimony to the true story of Christmas. Centuries ago, when Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land, he had them build a monument of twelve stones as a witness to the mighty acts of God in their behalf. Today, our striking nativity scene witnesses to the mighty act of God in our behalf, the arrival of our Savior so many years ago. 

What stones do you have to mark the true meaning of Christmas? With all the commercialism of the holidays these days, be sure to witness in some way to the real Christmas story. 

(Photo courtesy of office.microsoft.com.)

(For more devotions, visit www.christiandevotions.us.)

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Joan Schrysen

Joan Singley Schrysen retired after twenty-eight years in elementary education. In 1994 she founded a Christian ministry to educators called Living Waters which meets monthly to pray for the educational community, and publishes Waves—a newsletter of encouragement and inspiration—three times a year. Joan and her husband Art live on the Halifax River in South Daytona, FL, where they enjoyed many years of boating. They have two grown children. 


  1. Excellent!