I really don’t like to let go of Christmas through these winter days. I leave some of my “seasonal” décor in place through to Lent. Lately I have been thinking about nativity sets. They come in all shapes and sizes!
I have a small set of nativity figures that are resin Bearington Bears dressed as the Holy Family, the shepherds, the angels, the magi (or wise men) and all the animals. They remind me of the many Christmas pageants I have participated in as a child and youth, the pageants our children were a part of, as well as the many Christmas Eve pageants I celebrated with children and youth in previous pastoral charges as their minister of Faith Formation and Care.
I have another crèche at home. It is the Willow Tree figures. They look like carved wood and have no real facial features. Some people do not like them for that reason. But as I looked at the many possible crèches there are I became rather fascinated with the lack of facial expression and how so much is conveyed through the suggestion of the whole body. I could see the openness and encompassing character of the figures drawing me further into reflection. It was like you could see the face of Christ in each and each being the face of Christ to the other. Just as we ourselves are called to be.
A few years ago I was blessed to attend a quilt show at the Ivan Pastoral Charge as they celebrated their 150th anniversary. As part of the celebration they had organized a display of nativity sets as well as the over 300 quilts and provided a delicious lunch. I really wish I had taken pictures of the 85 different nativity sets that were on display. They ranged in type from the very traditional to the very whimsical. It reminded me of the many ways that we come together to celebrate and offer our gratitude for the grace and love gifted to us through the birth of Jesus. I couldn’t help but think of quiet carol and lesson services and joy filled children’s pageants, Christmas Eve communions, (that now include shortbread – thanks to the Littlewood and St. Andrews – Westminster folks!) and carolling parties. I was reminded of all the activities that fill our calendars and keep our lives busy.
I think that the crèches help me to remember that the season of preparation in Advent and the season of celebration at Christmas are about the abundant love and grace of God. And that after our Christmas season has ended the message remains and continues. For as the Gospel of John tells us “for God so loved the world, that God gave his only son Jesus” and that “the word became flesh and dwelt among us”. For this gift of grace, we respond in love and acceptance. The crèche serves as a visual reminder of that very real and physical, spiritual and emotional gift that calls us to follow the Way and to be the very people that we were created to be. So … my Willow Tree crèche remains in place on my dining room buffet.
May peace, hope, joy and love be with you! Rev. Wendy