Noel Is There Somewhere

I had just unswaddled — is that a word?!?! — all the members of the nativity set. They were each wrapped in crinkled tissue paper… all crammed together in a box from the past year.   As I unpacked, I found a wise man’s foot jammed into a shepherd’s nose; Mary’s veiled head shoved under Joseph’s arm pit; a camel’s hoof wedged into a lamb’s mouth!

It was funny to think that this motley crew coming out of my Rubbermaid tub was about to stand tall on my mantel!


The unpacking held a certain charm.  And, it’s not just because of how haphazardly it was all packed, it was because of Leon.

I bet you are wondering who Leon is and what in the world he was doing in a box about to be put on our mantel.

Leon ended up on my mantel a few years ago.

It was a few Decembers ago. I placed each member of the nativity on the mantel, and no, I don’t have a rogue shepherd or a smarty pants wise man named Leon! After positioning all the camels, sheep, and curious magi around Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, I then placed my stocking hangers at the front of the mantel.

You’ve seen the kind, right?  They each weigh about five pounds, and they each are shaped like a letter.

My particular set spells the word NOEL.

Our stockings were hung by the chimney with care until Saint Nicholas… well, you know the drill. We hung our stockings on N-O-E-L, believing that on Christmas Eve, Santa, — or somebody — would fill them.

But, at some point during the advent, I’m sure only seen by Mary and Joseph, someone rearranged the stocking hangers!

Someone used our lovely Christmas display as if it were a game of Scrabble!

The once significant NOEL was reduced to the most silly…LEON!


Who placed LEON there, I am not sure. (They should be on the naughty list though.)  But, of this I am sure, if you looked at the nativity, you couldn’t help but see LEON!

Leon shimmered and shined as the lights above the mantel illuminated the Baby Jesus. His E and his O served to frame the blessed mother, the carpenter father, and the Holy Christ child! Oh brother!

I don’t know how long Leon was there before any of us noticed, but when I did, I automatically started to rearrange Leon back to Noel.

I was shifting the N and the L when it dawned on me how important LEON really was, so I left him there just as he was. I decided that he would serve a greater purpose by remaining on my mantel.

Sometimes what we think will distract us from Christmas is what actually draws us closer to Christ.
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You see, if you saw LEON, that meant your eyes were on the mantel.  And it was on the mantel where the real stuff of Christmas was found.

Actually, it was on the mantel that the real stuff of life is found!

The gospel story — Christ come down; hearts made new — that is the real stuff of life and it was displayed beautifully on my mantel in that nativity scene.

God, cradled and crucified, is the message of Christmas.
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Leon was not a distraction from the main thing. He served to draw attention to the main thing.

Life is like that. Sometimes things get scrambled, and our lives seem to fall into a position that we never intended. Sometimes what we think will be a distraction from the real stuff of life is exactly what God uses to keep your eye on the mantel!

Could it be the LEON moments in life remain just so we will see that in the center of it all is the Messiah?

The fact that God came down, was cradled and then crucified is the real stuff of life.

In the middle of your mess is the Messiah.
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It is at the center, it is the core.

So, my friend, keep your eyes on the mantel.  Even if all you can see is LEON, look a little closer. 

In the middle of everything is your Messiah.  He is in the center of your heartache.  He is the axis of your joy.

If this holiday, LEON shows up in your life, just laugh and thank God because noel — a shout of Christmas joy—is in there somewhere!

The Gospel story-Christ came down; hearts are made new- is the real stuff of life, the main thing.
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“Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15 NASV)

Merry Christmas, my friends!

In the comments below, share one thing you’re thankful for this Christmas.

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