Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas of the Nativity Fever!

 “It's happening all around us,” said Nigel Milligan, CEO of Animal Adventures Inc. when my trusty, junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater, and I interviewed him last Tuesday. “Every year, I get more concerned about Christmas because it seems that with each passing year, the true meaning for this season gets lost in the shuffle, even by those who claim to proclaim it!” Nigel knows that way back when, America as a country considered Christmastime a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Though Jesus existed before He was born on earth – because He is One with God the Father – Christmas is the time we celebrate when Jesus was born as a human being – because He is also human) “But times are changing,” Nigel explains. “If you talk about Jesus Christ, people call you intolerant; nativity scenes and other Christian symbols are being removed and forgotten, and it's even often times forbidden to say something as simple as 'Merry Christmas'. My girlfriend was shopping in some of the department stores the other day, and she said she couldn't find one Christmas card with the Nativity, or Mary and Jesus on it? 'What is this world coming to?' she said. In fact, it's so bad that some have begun calling it 'The War on Christmas'.”

As Christians should know, Christmas is the time we set aside to celebrate Jesus' birth. But even many Christians seem to forget this. Nigel is quoted for saying, “Department stores and other businesses are trying to sell things as quickly as possible, and we the consumers are running around like dodo birds in a thunderstorm trying to buy, buy, buy and find that perfect gift for our friends and family. While giving to others is a good thing, we tend to focus more on ourselves during this time of year rather than on Christ. Without Him, there is no Christmas.”

I asked Nigel if there is any connection between the lack of focus on Christ during Christmas and Santa Claus, a popular icon for this time of year. “Yes and no,” Nigel answered. “No, I don't think Santa Claus is intentionally trying to lead people away from God. However, people, children especially, are always focusing on Kris Kringle...[They're] trying to be good so they can get presents on Christmas Eve when he flies their way. Parents, television and friends of these children sow the seeds of commercialism in them during Christmastime. Sure, many parents may assume their children already know about the true meaning of Christmas, but what if they've been paying for attention to the false meaning of Christmas; what if when asked Who the center of Christmas is, they answer, 'Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer?'; what if when it's time to sing Christmas songs together, they can't seem to remember the words to 'O Holy Night', 'Mary, Did You Know' or 'Away in a Manger', but know 'Jingle Bells' and 'Santa is Coming To Town' perfectly well? I've seen it happen so often in children of this generation.”

Adults too, Nigel explains, fall into the world's trap of commercialism and focus on everything but Christ during Christmas. “It's saddening,” Nigel says, “to see how many parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and other family members remind their children that they need to rush out of church so they can get home and fix a meal before the family comes over, or so they can run to the store and get that last minute Christmas gift.”

Nigel says, “For this Christmas, I have some advice for everyone: slow down! Slow down and consider what you are doing for the holidays. As Christians, we should show those around us through our actions Who are focus is on and who we are in Christ. Are we really doing that when we're acting just like the rest of the world this time of year? That's why, we at AAI. have decided to start the 'Nativity Fever'!”

Nativity Fever, is, as Nigel's calling it, an attempt to get people thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. “Jesus was a radical person,” Nigel explains, “and I believe that He wants us to follow in His footsteps, so we should be radical too, even if other people don't like it. Hey, I mean, not everyone liked Jesus in His time either!” Inspired by the recent Minnesota Nativity Scene occurrence, Nigel and everyone at AAI. will be setting up nativity scenes around the property and several designated areas around the town. In addition to that, they will be conducting a mini-parade through the streets of Riverville featuring a live nativity. “We will have many human residents participating, as well as many animals: sheep, donkeys, cows, goats and camels, things like that. However, we'll be careful to be as biblically accurate as we can in our portrayal of the Nativity; for example, we will not show the wise men and their camels near baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the manger because, according to the Bible, they didn't visit Jesus until He was a 'child', perhaps a year or two old.”

It's a small step, but what Nigel believes that this parade and the Nativity scenes he and his company will set up will be a good witnessing tool. Lord-willing, it will get people thinking about Jesus, the real meaning of the season, and give Nigel and the others a chance to share with unbelievers (and remind believers) that Jesus Christ came into the world as a baby almost 2,000 years ago so that, 33 years later, He could sacrifice Himself by dying on a cross for the sins that each and everyone one of us commit each day so that if we call upon His name to save us, we will not have to suffer the penalty of sin – eternal separation from God – and exist with God after we die. And to prove what He said He came to earth to do was true, He rose again.

To coin the phrase,” Nigel says, “it's time to put Christmas back in Christ!”


Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographer: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan

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