Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Friday, December 10
By Nancy Carmon
Read Luke 2:15-16
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (NIV)
Do you display a nativity set in your home? It might be a simple one, a family treasure, or one purchased at the nativity shop in Bethlehem. You might even have a collection! The custom of the creche began with St. Francis in 1223 with simple, unadorned characters representing the Holy Family and the visitors and included a live ox and donkey. The largest nativity scene was in Mexico City in 2011 and contained over 5000 figures, and the smallest one can fit into the eye of a needle.
What figures do you have in your creche? Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, the Kings, shepherds, animals? In Italy and France nativity scenes include many other characters: a beggar, a blind man, a gypsy, orchestra players, women following the Magi, tarantella dancers, tartar warriors, village characters. There is even a special street in Naples where artisans sell nativity characters. The custom in France is to add new characters to the scene each year.
Do you put everything in the scene at once? In one country the custom is to set the stage or build the background the first week of Advent, add the animals during the second week, then the shepherds come, and then Mary and Joseph appear walking toward Bethlehem. With no room in the inn, they find the stable. Jesus is placed in the manger at midnight on Christmas Eve. Finally the kings arrive with their special gifts.
Perhaps add more characters to your manger scene, or set it up in stages this year. How can you use your creche, nativity set, or manger scene and make it a special part of your Advent celebration this year, and welcome the Christ Child into your home?
Dear Father God, Thank you for the nativity story. Let it help us to welcome this Holy Child into our hearts and lives this year. Amen.