Making the Christmas Story Personal

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January 9, 2015
Jesus in the Manger

By Sister Nancy Surma, OSF

For years I have had the practice during this time of year of selecting one of the figures in the Christmas story that represents what the past year has been like for me.

One year when I moved twice within 12 months, I selected one of the camels travelling across vast expanses of desert. The movement of that beast, carrying supplies and goods in a slow plod, reminded me of my many trips with boxes into and out of the car.

The year I stared the ministry I’m in now, I marveled at the chance it gave me to speak of the mission and values of our healthcare system. I identified with the angel sharing news of glad tidings to the shepherds.

The year filled with emptiness and pain brought the image of the manger to mind.

And so it’s been over what are now decades—Joseph, a shepherd, a cow blowing a warm breath at the Babe, a star in the heavens. The story of the nativity is such a rich one that no matter what is happening in my simple life, there is some element that feels like my story.

Or perhaps, the better explanation is that my story is part of God’s story. I never consciously decide what I will be; rather I let the image come into my heart in God’s own time. I never have to force a choice; only take time to get in touch with what the last year brought into my life.

What about you? Does any figure come to mind as you look over how God worked in your life in 2014?

Sister Nancy Surma

Health and Human Services

surma-nancySister Nancy is a native of Detroit and was taught in grade school by the Sylvania Franciscans. Her early years were spent teaching and administering at the junior high and high school level. Life took a turn, as it so often does, and she served as administrator in four different Catholic colleges and universities, earning a doctorate in higher education administration along the way. She currently works for Sylvania Franciscan Health, the Sisters’ sponsored health and human service ministry, in the world of mission integration. Sr. Nancy lives with three other Sisters in a house that is filled with laughter and love.

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