The National LaSalette Shrine in nearby Attleboro (MA) celebrates Christmas by lighting every tree on the property and proclaiming Jesus’ birth in story and song. Thousands come every year to worship and or enjoy the lights and myriad of displays. One of the buildings houses a collection of nativity sets, large and small, from all over the world. Many of these are quite different from our American scenes.
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. Luke 2:15-16
For many years I collected Precious Moments figurines including the Nativity scene which are made from porcelain. I always told my children that they could look but not touch. Invariably I would find the sheep had wandered away from the stable or baby Jesus had acquired a ball to play with. “Somehow” a camel broke its neck one year. I was quite upset at the time but couldn’t get too angry – it was an accident. We carefully glued the pieces and today I can hardly see the crack. In high school my son added a Spiderman quietly hanging over the manger. And so, this porcelain “no touch” nativity set became precious as our family enjoyed the sweet figurines and cherished the story of our Saviors birth every year.
The whole point of having a Creche and all the pieces is to recreate and retell the story found in Luke 2 and Matthew 2. The real birth of Jesus was far from a perfect setting just like the broken camel. Forced to travel for a Roman census, no room with family or at an Inn , Mary gave birth in a barn. The hard reality is that Jesus was born during Roman occupation where Jews were barely tolerated and King Herod of the Jews wanted to kill him. Dirty shepherds were the first to visit the newborn. This is not a comfy cozy narrative like we envision today. God came into a broken world as a baby so we would approach Him without fear. He knows that life can be hard and promises to be with us and give us peace.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7 His government and its peace will never end. Isaiah 9:6-7 (NLT)
I set my figurines up after Thanksgiving thru New Years to remind us that the season is not about Santa bringing us gifts but That Jesus came to offer us the best gift of all. The love of God goes beyond barriers to offer us undeserved forgiveness for sin and peace that passes all understanding. All we need to do is come to Him in faith.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. Romans 10:9-10