I wrote this reflection twenty years ago. I am still amazed at the wonder of working with God as He instills His creativity into our finite imaginations.
As usually happens after the final curtain goes down on Bethlehem Revisited, I question the rationality of planning another for the following year. The vision has become a reality once again but at a great cost of energy, nerves, and time.
“On flowery beds of ease” (what I once thought was an accurate description of obedience to God) has been in reality a matter of pure discipline, commitment, and hard work much of the time. Yet there is also incredible joy in helping to create this event, and that joy comes in the knowledge that I am working with God and that He is filling it with the spiritual essence of an eternal nature that can only come from Him. And where I see this the most is what I would call the anointing of the imagination.
Our imaginations are a vital part of who we are. From the devotional masters to the Puritans we have been given examples of the importance of using our imaginations to bring to the heart what our intellect has already given assent. I see it first in the imagination of those who are called to come alongside in the planning.
Before there is an inn, a stable, a “Bethlehem,” someone has to “see” the possibilities and then have the imagination to help create the atmosphere. Someone has to “see” the necessary steps that must be taken to ensure that the guests feel welcome and are safe.
And God brings those to come alongside to whom He has given that “imagination.” I see it in the imagination of those who participate in acting and staffing. I am always amazed at the way God expands my vision as the actors and crew work together as the Body. Each person adds his own unique “imagination” and gifts to the event to make it go far beyond my own imagination.
Finally, I see it in the imagination of the guests as they experience the story that comes to life, as they trudge the paths, smell the “reality” of a barnyard, hear with their ears the crowd in the inn, the donkey’s bray, and the simplicity of the greatest event of all times, the incarnation of our Saviour.
For some guests, it is the very first time that they have heard or seen this message; for others it is the first time their imaginations have been baptized with the truth of Incarnational Reality; for others it is simply a time for their imaginations to be stirred once again into a sense of worship of the One they serve.
The eternal essence of God’s work in Bethlehem Revisited as He anoints our imaginations and brings truth and reality to our meager effort is what makes it worth considering “one more time.”