Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Hi friends...

It's been a busy few weeks. There's been life, death, expectancy, snotty noses, short trips and good news. You know... just like every Advent.

I'm way behind on posting, though I feel like I have lots to write.

But my economy of words is limited. Maybe because I'm preaching this Sunday, and, in the manner of my Uncle Wayne, I'm only allowed so many words a day and I'm saving them all for some good, old-fashioned proclamation.

Or maybe, I'm just busy.

I have had it in my head to post about the Great 2008 Nativity Debate that's been raging on my Facebook page. Many of you have posted some great suggestions, some serious, some not so much. Redykle wins the prize for spending the most time and effort on finding the most wonderful and creative (and possibly offensive!) nativities for me.

First, here were my criteria:

* Nativity must be non-fragile, non-cheezy, non-artsy, and somewhat ethnically accurate.
* A stable must be included.
* Baby Jesus must be able to be lifted from his manger, so as to make his mystical appearance on Christmas morn.

Here were the suggestions that I received:


I did see one at Target that was much like this, only it included a huge LCD countdown-to-Christmas clock!

#2: Anachronistic, Reverent Santa Nativity!

This is wrong in so many ways. I don't even know where to start.

#3: Adorable, yet highly unhelpful and SUPER over-priced, if you buy from Amazon (don't be fooled by their free shipping!): Duckie Nativity!

Take note of the loving Mother Mary with her baby duck, which I sort of appreciate. Think about it - how often do you see a new mother just sitting around with strangers staring at her newborn baby in his bassinet? In reality, we cling to those little bundles with fierceness and pride, and it is next to impossible to put them down, even for a moment, because they sense your absence and immediately start SCREAMING.

Then again, maybe baby Jesus was different...

(N.B. This nativity "scene" wins the prize for being the absolute opposite of all the criteria I listed!)

#4: Mary, LEGO, and Joseph!!!!!!!!

Don't you just love that someone took the time, not just to MAKE these, but to write down the instructions in some incomprehensible code, and publish them on the internet. Ah, series of tubes, you give us gifts beyond measure once again!

My gratitude to the UVA Science Department.

(Even better are the Three Wise Men, who look more like Transformers than Astrologers)

My personal pick, if I didn't have children small enough to choke on or lose all but one of the pieces (most likely the baby Jesus himself) would be:


We had this set at my last church gig, where I served as the Children's Minister. It ruled. However, there were at least 89,230 tiny pieces that were all critical to the telling of Jesus' birth story, and if even one got lost, then the magic of Christmas would be destroyed. Or, at least, that's what I told them.

But, the winner by a landslide, of the Great 2008 Nativity Scene Debate goes to...



This was, by far, the most highly suggested set by parents and non-parents alike. It's affordable, somewhat accurate, fits 90% of my criteria (which is weird, 'cause I only had three), and the pieces are unlikely to get lost in the underbelly of my sofa. It's perfect! AND, a good friend has offered to put hers on loan to the Tiny Flemmings from now until Epiphany (Though I didn't specify which year... HA!).

I was leaning heavily towards this beauty from the Catholic Supply store:

but I think that the boys might be a little bit young for such delicate folks. Maybe next year...

I did a lot of thinking, online shopping late at night, and wondering about why this particular thing has grabbed me this year. Maybe it's because the little cloth nativity scene that we have is missing some fairly significant figures, like... Joseph, who appears to have run away with one of the Shepherds (I wish them nothing but happiness). Baby Jesus has recently taken a leave of absence from his little cloth manger (See! That's why Mamas never put their babies down! Think of what could happen!), and unless he makes a surprise reappearance on Christmas Eve, this nativity scene is now weakened as a teaching tool.

I'm wondering why this image of the inbreaking of God renders so many different - and yet highly similar - productions. We were reading the Christmas Story to the boys last night, using a new illustrated book I'd picked up at Cokesbury. Jackson was way into it, and Cooper would stop occasionally to check out the pictures. J stopped as we breezed through the part where Jesus gets himself born.

"Why," he asked, "isn't there a picture of Jesus coming out?"

[Pregnant pause.]

"Um..." Matt cautiously replied, "because this book only makes pictures of a few events, and that wasn't one of them."

[Me: Scampering around to get our copy of Lennart Nilsson's A Child is Born so that I can produce photographic evidence of an actual baby getting born. I'm completely insane, I know.]

Me: (Flipping to page where baby is being apologetically pulled from mother's body): THIS is why there's no picture.

Jackson: Oh. Ohhhhhhhhh.

Cooper: WHAT'S DAT?!?! (Pointing at baby's partially exposed head)

Matt: Hey! Look! It's bedtime! Lights out, boys! Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed...

This in no way captures why I think the Incarnation is so imporant to teach to our children now, and my prayer is that they start to get it in some way. Maybe because it took me a long time to really get it. In my Facebook fretting over this nativity as a teaching tool, one of my friends wisely commented, "Keep in mind though that YOU are the primary teaching tool too and even if it isn't accurate, you can use that as teaching tool as well. Those teachable moments will pop up."

How right she is.

I hope that all of us find some sort of appropriate and inappropriate way to experience the beauty of the Incarnation this year. I pray that you know that God is with you.

God is with us.

God is with YOU.


No comments: