The local news rag recently reported that a Norman Rockwell painting titled “Saving Grace” sold for $46 million. That’s a lot of grace. A few days later, Bob Dylan’s Fender Stratocaster (a cool electric guitar) sold for nearly $1 million—the highest price ever paid for a guitar at an auction. Elvis must be turning over in his grave, assuming Elvis is really dead.
Spending that much money on anything is baffling to me. I like art. I love music. I suppose if I had a few extra bucks to spare I might replace a cheesy twenty-dollar print of Dogs Playing Poker for something a bit more valuable. But seriously, $46 million for a painting?! Even if I was a gazillionaire, I think I would find something much better to do with my mullah.
Speaking of stuff… Every year we pull out the variety of nativity scenes we own. Some of them have been passed down to us from our family, others have been received as gifts, and we bought a nice one in an after-Christmas sale a few years ago.
My favorite nativity, however, is a plastic one we own made by Mattel. It’s a toy made for children, and all the little characters are indestructible. It also has a cool angel who sits on top of the barn, and when you bop her in the head, the song Away in a Manger plays. Unfortunately, the Joseph piece has been lost, and Mary is now a single mom (which makes her even more valuable to me).
Of course, Jesus is a plastic baby, lying in a plastic manager, surrounded by a plastic barn, being adored by a plastic shepherd and plastic animals. But the whole thing is just so stinkin’ cute I want to play with it too. My grandchildren have giggled for hours playing with this simple toy nativity.
The other day I was sitting in my favorite chair early in the morning for a little time alone with Jesus, and I had a cup of coffee in one hand and my bible in the other.
Here’s what I read…
Philippians 2:6-7 (NLT)
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
I looked up from my bible at that moment to see plastic Jesus on my coffee table (precariously close to the edge), and it struck me: Jesus didn’t come to a castle or mansion; He gave up everything for you and me. He left the true riches and vast glory of heaven to become a child born to a poor blue-collar family. And He did this so we could know Him, relate to Him, and fall in love with Him.
Without a doubt, if Jesus went shopping today to buy a nativity scene to celebrate His birthday it wouldn’t be one made out of gold or silver…it’d be plastic. Something simple, humble, raw and real, just like Him.
Thanks for reading my blog today. Time for me to go bop the angel’s head again and listen to Away in a Manger one more time.