Brennan Manning tells a beautiful tale that is recounted every Christmas in the forests in southern France. It’s about four shepherds who came to Bethlehem to see the child.
According to this story, one of the shepherds brought eggs, another brought bread and cheese, and the third brought wine. The fourth brought nothing at all. People called that shepherd “L’Enchant.” The first three shepherds chatted with Mary and Joseph, commenting on how well Mary looked, how cozy was the cave decorated by Joseph, and what a beautiful starlit night it was. They congratulated the proud parents, presented them with their gifts and assured them that if they needed anything else, they had only to ask. Finally, someone said, “Where is L’Enchant?” They searched high and low, up and down, inside and out. Finally, someone peeked through the blanket hung against the draft, into the creche. There, kneeling at the crib, was L’Enchant (the Enchanted One). Through the entire night, he stayed in adoration, whispering, “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Manning’s story ends with this: That is where you and I would be, would we not? Kneeling beside the crib, whispering, “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu.” After all, what else can we offer him? He already reigns over all creation. What can we bring? Only our love and adoration.
So, my question is this: how many Christmases do we let pass without paying homage to our savior, without dedicating the entire holiday season to the One after whom it is named? When I read stories like Manning’s, I wonder which of the four characters I am. Am I all about the gifts I buy, hoping the receiver will be excited about my present as opposed to worrying about him/her wanting to exchange it? Am I all about the festivities and food preparation? Or will my behavior replicate that of L’Enchant’s so that the focus of my holiday activity is centered completely around Jesus? Right now, our family is planning a Christmas vacation…which means tending to dozens of details, Jesus being the most important. Everyone agreed that this year we will dedicate the week we have together to be purposeful in honoring our Savior. We will be unselfish in our White Elephant exchange, and our pickle ball, volleyball and shooting competitions will not bring out any unnecessary challenges or temper tantrums like they have in the past. Meal preparation will be a shared responsibility, we will all bring our favorite Christmas cookie recipe and bake dozens to be distributed, and we will have a day to paint for a family in need. Instead of lavishing gifts on each other, the money saved will be spent on those less fortunate. Every day we are together we will be creative in giving glory to our Reason for this Season. I pray it doesn’t stop there. I pray we do likewise for all the days after that. I imagine L’Enchant would do the same.