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Christmas Listening, Reflecting…and Joyful Jumping!

A Letter from Chenoa Stock, serving in Peru

December 2020

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Dear friends,

Christmas might be right around the corner, but we have been telling the Christmas story in our home for months now. Years ago, my parents gifted us a beautiful, wooden nativity set — the same model I used to play with when I was a child. Well, with our extended lockdown and the need for new stimulation for our two-year old son, Leandro, I brought out the manger in June. He, of course, loved playing with the wooden figures, giving the animals their designated sounds, putting the baby Jesus in and out of the crib, and making the angels fly.

Around that same time, perhaps providentially, Leandro found “The Animals’ Christmas Eve” hidden in our book collection. Published in 1977 and with my older sister’s signature in the ‘Belongs to’ line, this Little Golden Book had the wear and tear of being well loved by its first owner. Leandro continues to show it love, as we have most likely read it more than 100 times since June.

Leandro listens (and sometimes narrates) intently as each farm animal tells a rhyming story of their role in Jesus’ birth. From one small hen to five gray donkeys to ten soft lambs, we follow Jesus’ journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. But with our nativity set, we were now able to go beyond simply reading the book, to acting out the entire story with our figures, farm animals, and more. Our dinosaurs became chicks, squirrels became doves, pigs became donkeys and llamas became camels. All are welcome to Jesus’ story!

One of Leandro’s favorite parts is the “nine woolly sheep, down from the hill”, as they remember when “Shepherds heard the angels sing, praises to the newborn king”. I find it impossible just to read that modified version of the Christmas hymn line, so I always sing it, to the enjoyment of Leandro. That then developed into my singing the entire song, which Leandro learned and is now a duet.

Admittedly, by September, when he asked us to read it “one more time”, the excitement for Jose and me wasn’t as grand as four months ago. But Leandro continues to jump up and down as we read and he puts each animal into the barn, sings and makes the angels announce to the shepherds, and moves Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus along their journey.

Leandro is only just learning about Jesus and his revolutionary birth, life and ministry of justice. And yet, Leandro knows that we cannot simply read the story over and over; but we must put those words into action. We must jump up and down when we tell of Jesus’ birth. This is a story to be told and remembered all year round, not only at Christmas. It is a story that all are invited to hear, and one in which all can take part and take action.

During these times of the pandemic, natural disasters and political crisis, as we accompany Mary, Joseph and Jesus on their journey to birth and Light this season, we also remember and pray for those who experience being left out of this story– the marginalized, the sick, the homeless, and the poor.

More than ever, in these pandemic times, our partners continue to invite these communities into the story, offering food, education, housing and God’s unconditional love of neighbor. God’s Light has and will continue to shine through Jesus and our partners this season and beyond.

Though we know not where the journey will take us, we are grateful you are walking with us in telling and being Jesus’ story, now and all year round. As we sing Christmas hymns and place Jesus in the crib one more time this year, may a renewed Light shine through us for the journey ahead and call us to jump up and down into action for all of God’s people.

Glory to the newborn king!

With peace, love, joy and hope in this Advent and Christmas season,

Chenoa


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