A few posts back we discussed the “Meaning of the Nativity” (Day 17). But today – the Fourth Sunday in Advent – I can’t help but return to the powerful image, and wonder at how the simple – very human – drama of the stable brings everything else about this time of the year into clear focus.
Last Christmas, when Rebekah and I hosted the WFPC staff party, I offered a prize for the person who could accurately count the number of nativities we had on display. I don’t remember exactly, but I believe the number was around 30.
I honestly don’t know how many we have out for 2014; but I do know how profoundly they impact the spirit of our home.
THE TROUPE: Our most enduring nativity is the “interactive” group Rebekah’s dad brought back from Israel in the 70’s, the troupe who played the cast in the famous “Case of the Missing Magi” incident almost 30-years ago. Our well-loved olive-wood figures have been through many adventures over the years. Swatted by cats; pounced by dogs; re-purposed by children; photographed for the newspaper. These guys are tough, they’ve held it together and they’ve hung in there for the long haul.
Then there are countless nativities in miniature: carved from single pieces of stone, conjured from wood, applied on paper, NeQwa (“painted inside”) glass balls, hanging inside Christmas trees, occupying space on bookshelves, adorning any available space, telling their story to any passerby willing to pay attention.
I think the tableaus are so prevalent at our house because – subconsciously maybe – Rebekah and I want the real story of Christmas to infiltrate every detail of our festivities. Some of the scenes may be partially hidden, or hard to see, but there they are, subtly coloring the narrative of the season.
And that’s the key phrase, I believe – coloring the narrative. You see this brief block of time, covering Advent and then the 12 days of Christmas, comprises a powerful opportunity for us to sow the seeds of The Good Story into the ongoing telling and retelling of what it means to live.
HOW WOULD YOU TELL? Here’s a challenge for all of us. If you had a small nativity scene, like one of the ones in the slide gallery below, and someone asked you to explain what it all meant to you, what would you say?
The Advent story is one of Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. I think I’d want to explain the connection between the fragile being in the hay and each one of those words.
Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent. For me, the sum of everything I have experienced during these past few weeks becomes distilled into the essential focus of God’s extravagant intervention into time and space; everything else evaporates, and what we are left with is pure love.
everything else evaporates, and what we are left with is pure love.