Capturing Christmas

For three nights last week I wore a dress. Well … not really a dress, but a long robe. I was a wise man in a local production that took the audience on a journey to Bethlehem and to a small stable with two new parents staring adoringly at their new baby.

I’m glad that I don’t have to wear a robe like that all the time.

Being on stage in the final scene gave me some unique insights.

From where I stood I could cast my eyes across the room to catch the audience responding to the nativity scene with it’s live animals and a real baby playing the part of Jesus. There was a donkey, who mostly behaved, three sheep and a few chickens. What is it they say about working with children and animals?

What became clear over dozens of performances over the three nights was the difference between those who simply immersed themselves in the story and the scene before them and those who were more interested in capturing the moment on a smorgasbord of electronic devices. There were some who managed to capture a few images but still stay connected with the story but those who seemed to have the single goal of recording the scene seemed to lose the wonder.

From children to adults, those who just let themselves be carried along by the story would beam with joy and amazement. You could see the delight in their faces as they encountered some of the surprises in the scene. Many were very obviously moved by a simple portrayal of the first Christmas.

Conversely, those who spent their whole time trying to capture the moment saw the larger than life story through their tiny screens. There was no wonder in their faces. There was only concentration as they tried to grab the best angle and attempt to record the full 360 degrees of the immersive experience. Will they ever watch what they recorded or will the files be deleted the next time they start running our of space on their device?

Thinking about what happened reminded me of a holiday in Kalbarri decades ago with my dad. In the mornings I would drive to some incredibly picturesque spots, dad would get out of the car, walk a few steps, take a couple of pictures, then get back in the car. In the afternoons, Pauline and I would go back to those spots to explore a little more and to more fully appreciate God’s creation.

Don’t miss the moment.

I love taking photos and even recording some video now and then but I still want to be part of the moment. I don’t want to lose the wonder for the sake of some images that can never truly capture what I’m experiencing.

This Christmas I hope that I’ll see some happy photos of people enjoying the day. I even want to see some Christmas food shots. I love that social media lets us share each other’s day, but don’t spend so much time on creating the perfect shot that you miss everything the day can be.

In the same way, I’m hoping that you allow yourself to be truly immersed in the stable scene that we remember at this time of the year. Don’t give the Christmas story a quick read through. Spend some time among the animals with Mary and Joseph and consider the enormity of the occasion.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23

God with us. That’s incredible. Put down the distractions this Christmas and let that truly soak in.

My wish for you is that you’ll really capture Christmas this year in a way that you perhaps haven’t before or maybe haven’t for a long time.

This Christmas I hope and pray that you’ll create memories that you can store in your heart rather than just the kind of memories that you can store on a hard drive.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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