· Ministry with the Poor

My favorite nativity set


By Bishop Gary Mueller


Every year as I unwrap my favorite nativity set from its storage box, I inevitably spend a few moments reflecting while I put all the figures in their proper places. Quite frankly, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s always a bit depressing because it causes me to remember how often Jesus remains stuck in the manger as a benign and sentimental figure who seems to have little to offer our broken world today.


But I don’t remain depressed for long because the words of Matthew’s Gospel figuratively shout out, “This baby born to Mary is ‘Immanuel, God with us’.”


This is the joy of Christmas. God is so passionately in love with humanity that God decides to risk plunging into the messiness and muckiness of life to give us what we absolutely need, but can never get on our own.


That is why I pray you will be filled with the true joy of Christmas that comes from knowing you do not have to find God in order to convince God to give you something. God already has found you and offers you amazing grace.


I’ll continue to stop by my favorite nativity set every day for the next several weeks until I put it away for another year. But more importantly, I’ll let it remind me of the eternal truth that God’s Christmas gift to us comes in the most unlikely of ways––through Jesus, an infant born of Mary, a carpenter from Galilee who was an itinerant preacher for just three years, and the Son of God who died on a cross for the entire world.


I hope you’ll find some time to stop by your nativity set and be reminded, too.


Merry Christmas!


Bishop Gary Mueller, vice president

General Commission on United Methodist Men




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