Symbols are important in our spiritual formation. Ever pointing to icons and sculptures and artwork, Henri Nouwen has introduced us to the concept of “visio divina”, sacred viewing.
Even so, the creche or nativity scene (first developed by St. Francis in 1223).
Our nativity scenes vary. There’s the one from my childhood, a simple Sears & Roebuck product. We’ve accrued pieces to a scene started by gift money from the second church we served, in Orange, TX in the late 1980’s. There’s a scene bought during a trip to the Holy Land. One painted and fired by a gentleman during early ministry years. A daughter brought us set from a trip to Mexico. Kathy purchased another in San Antonio. And, of course, there’s the cherished Charlie Brown nativity scene, Snoopy and all.
And oh, how we hope — how we earnestly pray — that their presence amongst all the comings and goings in these next days will symbolize and “remind us of the humble birth of Jesus.”
Along these lines, the United Methodist Book of Worship has a lovely blessing you might take a moment to pray over your own creche. It encompasses our hope that our focus at Christmas will be about the “main thing”: the gift of the Christ child.
God of every nation and people,
from the very beginning of creation
you made manifest your love.
When our need for Savior was great,
you sent your Son to be born
of the Virgin Mary.
To our lives he brings joy and peace,
just mercy and love.
Lord, bless all who look up on this manger.
May it remind us
of the humble birth of Jesus,
and raise up our thoughts to Him,
Who is God-with-us and Savior of all,
and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
–UM Book of Worship,
Blessing of a Nativity Scene
Kathy and I pray that, as focused in the manger of Bethlehem, these days would deliver God’s joy and peace, justice, mercy and love to you and yours!