The setting of Jesus' birth has always fascinated me, and I've tried to imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child on that long ago night. A night that forever changed the world! So, I enjoy seeing the many versions of the nativity scene. But my favorite is this one that granddaughter Abby and I placed in our dining room. This year I added the cross.
These simple pieces are special for several reasons. The stable was made 25+ years ago by one of my seventh-grade students, and I've used it every year since. Thanks, Jason! The figures are also that old . . . well, except for the little Indian chief you see in the front! When grandson Isaac was little, he placed that tiny figure at the manger, and each year I've added it to the group worshipping Baby Jesus. It reminds me that everyone - no matter our race or economic status or culture - needs Jesus. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us - to be the Savior of ALL of us.
This year I placed the cross beside the nativity. The red berries around the foot of the cross remind me of His blood spilled for everyone of us. Jesus' story is not complete without both - the manger and the cross! As the beautiful song says: He was born to die. For me. For you. For ALL of us.
My devotional reading for today, written by Woodie Stevens in Reflecting God, so eloquently expresses what my display depicts:
The excitement and spirit of Advent is everywhere. Elaborate decorations with bright and colorful lights transform our streets, shops, and homes. They proclaim a magnificent celebration of life. All over the world, without a word spoken or carol sung, the festive decorations declare, "God has come to be with us."
Yet in the midst of the cradle celebration, there is the dark shadow of the cross. Beyond the dazzling lights, precious lives stagger in darkness, alienation, and the wages of sin. When Christ, the head of every power and authority, became fully human and died on the cross, it appeared He had been defeated; evil had won. The innocent sweetness of a babe in a manger belies the toxic hostilities of powers and authorities deployed against humankind. But God raised Christ Jesus from the dead.
In celebrating the birth of Jesus, let us also celebrate God's power that raised Christ as victor over sin, death, and the grave. . . . Celebrate the triumphant cross at Christmas.