Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gospel-Teaching Crèche

The  Crèche is as proverbial this time of year as it is controversial. A rustic enclosure, usually a wooden lean-to, wherein sheep and cattle, and a donkey sleep, shelters a man and woman watching a newborn, swaddled and laying in a manger – a food trough. Sometimes a few shepherds lurk around the outside; often an angel perches overtop. Three lavishly attired and foreign men bow before the manger, each bearing a gift, their camels secured at a distance. Why this generates so much controversy about its display on public places is its religious message:  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)  

So, given what a Crèche represents, I understand why a nativity scene should not be elevated in importance in the public arena. We are a nation that protects the freedom of religion. It’s clear, that US Congressmen should not say “Merry Christmas” on the public’s dime. (Or 44 cents!) 

A crèche then, remains a powerful encourager, and uncompromising tutor. Christians and non-Christians know what the holiday teaches:
Christians know why He came as He did – to give His life a ransom for many. But, others see our failures to honor our Lord:

·      Don’t expect too much of Christmas Day. You can’t crowd into it any arrears of unselfishness and kindliness that may have accrued during the past twelve months.” – Oren Arnold

·      How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep holidays than commandments. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

·      Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves."
~ Eric Sevareid (1912-1992), American newscaster.

The Christian symbols of the season were real people whose problems were real. A baby born of a virgin, Mary, in the humility of a stable, with only her espoused, Joseph, attending; shepherds, angels and Magi – tell a dramatic story – weaving suffering, humiliation, supernatural exaltation and intervention, royalty, intrigue, flight and unspeakable slaughter.  

·      Mary and Joseph, facing the birth of a baby outside the bounds of marriage endured hardship because of unexplainable pregnancy – perhaps that was why there was not room anywhere in Joseph’s hometown for the couple? 
·      Joseph and Mary suffered because of the requirement to be counted by Rome; they had travel over 70 miles when she was about to deliver!
·      Mary had no comfort in her delivery – Joseph had no expertise birthing babies.
·      The shepherds knew the sting of disrespect because of what they did – they were low on the social pecking order. 
·      It took the Magi perhaps a year and a half to reach the newborn King –
·      Even the angels who rejoiced couldn’t grasp the meaning of the Incarnation.  (1 Peter 1:12)  
·      And then there is the humiliation Christ embraced so that He might fully understand the human condition – the dependency, the laying aside of all His prerogatives.

Yet, they also enjoyed real blessings in the midst of their trials:
·      Joseph stuck by Mary – he feared God more than humiliation or gossip, and put her welfare ahead of his own.
·      Joseph did what was right for Mary and her Son.
·      The shepherds, the least in Jewish society were the first to see and hear the angels praising God.
·      The Magi saw the One of whom Daniel had spoken 750 years earlier.
·      Because of their gifts, Mary and Joseph had the wherewithal to escape Herod’s slaughter of little boys under two years old. And the holy family could live in Egypt, historically hostile to Jews, and lived there for two years before returning to Nazareth.
·      Finally, the Wise Men themselves departed on a different path from whence they came to Christ, Bishop Fulton Sheen said: Those who come to Christ never leave the way they came.

A familiar icon still conveys the Gospel . . .  For God so loved the world – He gave His Son . . . So many people will look at so many different kinds of crèche – I hope they will see the story behind the symbols -- but better yet, may they ask the question: “What Child is this -- really?”  
But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law.   Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage.   You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!"   Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. (Gal 4:4-7 from THE MESSAGE.)

Click here for a great choir in a box:

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