Nativity Set Reveals, video, The Corner Uniting Church, 2017.
As part of our season is a feast of Nativity sets. A decoration most households bring out during the festive season along with the Christmas trees and tinsel. Placed on a mantle or a piece of furniture Usually well out of reach of little hands. They come in all shapes and sizes. This becomes obvious when they are placed alongside other Nativity sets.
What nativity set do you have at home and where is it/are they placed?
St Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first Nativity Scene in 1223 at Greccio, central Italy, in an attempt to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than on materialism and gift giving. Who ever thought that this was a modern problem? St Francis’ nativity was first staged in a cave with people and animals acting out the scene. Over the centuries it has developed into the variety of static and living Nativity scenes that we see around us today. The nativity scene characters are taken from both accounts of the birth of Jesus. Found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, although not entirely scriptural as nowhere are they all together at one given time. No Shepherds, Magi, Ox and donkey gather together around the manger with the Holy Family (Wikipedia – Nativity Scene). Yet it is an image of the Christmas story that is part of our memory since childhood. In our gathering of Nativity sets, delight has been had with the cultural variations. Looking at how animals and characters are portrayed differently, the tiny details, which characters are included and which are not. With some nativity sets you wonder is that a donkey or a unicorn?
Nativity scenes are now part of the wider popular culture of Christmas, they may get lost amongst the tinsel yet if we put enough of them around and in prominent places, in the reach of little hands, then maybe a nativity scene can still perform the function that birthed the idea with St Francis in 1223.
Longing is positive
drives us on our faith journey
kicks us out of complacency
Draws us out
Can be intense
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness …
What are you longing for this Advent season?
For yourself, family or …..?
Luke 1: 61-80 (NRSV)
They said to her, ‘None of your relatives has this name.’ Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbours, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. All who heard them pondered them and said, ‘What then will this child become?’ For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.
I long for you
Yet so often I follow
Signposts of my own making
And get lost along the way.
Help me to recognise
When I’m on the wrong track
And help me to find
The way back.
May my longing for you
Be a beacon
That draws me back to you.
And just as the Wise ones
Followed the star
May I seek your light
To guide my footsteps home.
-©Marianne Musgrove 2017