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Donna Barker

Following the broken wisemen

The nativity scene is once again in place in my living room, resting on a white cloth on the dark cherry wood desk. My nativity set may be old and banged up a bit, but it still holds the most important place of honor in my living room and in the Christmas season.

My Christmas tree is also in place, with its blue lights and blue, gold and white ornaments. I love the softness and glow of my Christmas tree, but somehow I’m still drawn to the simple nativity scene.

On Sunday morning, I noticed once again how the Baby Jesus figure, nestled toward the back of my nativity set, still looks good. The Mary and Joseph figures, the sheep, the donkey and the shepherds are also still in good shape and positioned to face the baby. It’s the wisemen, who are approaching the manger scene from the sides, who look the worse for wear, perhaps the worse for their long journey.

Somehow along the way, two of the three wisemen in my nativity set have lost their gifts for the Christ child. One wiseman appears to have suffered a broken leg, though it’s well-covered by his robe. Another wiseman has lost his hand. Who knows what challenges and difficulties they have faced in their journey?

Most every year, I think about upgrading my nativity set, getting something with a bit more modern look, with wisemen who are in good shape and haven’t lost their gifts along the way. But once again, on Sunday morning, I’m drawn to my broken wisemen.

Maybe it’s because each year I have to face the fact that I’m a bit like those wisemen, coming to the manger scene a bit bruised and battered, even broken in places that aren’t always noticeable to others.

But what I like most about my broken wisemen is the fact they just keep traveling to reach the Christ child. From my perspective, that’s the wisdom of the wisemen. In spite of difficulties and brokenness, they keep traveling ... and so must I.  

This year has been a year of brokenness for many of us individually and as families, but it’s also been a year of brokenness for us as a country with report after report of mass shootings in malls and movie theaters and in an elementary school in Connecticut.

We come to Christmas this year with a brokenness and sorrow felt most strongly right now in Connecticut, but surely felt right here in Bureau County as well. 

As I looked at my wisemen again on Sunday morning, I think they may be a bit more tattered this year. Before leaving my living room a couple minutes later, I position the baby Jesus figure a bit more out front for the wisemen to find.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.

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