Today ready Psalm 77 and Matthew 1:18-25
I found this that Jacob wrote 10 years ago. Since then he is no longer in an apartment but he has a house. He is married to beautiful Allison and they have Caleb. I wonder if they still have the creche’ with a power ranger? This is good.
From time to time I get ideas in my head that I cannot shake. They become tied up deep in my soul and keep me awake at night. They are usually very simple truths; things that I learned in Sunday school (or that I should’ve learned in Sunday school had I paid attention). The only way I’ve ever been able to shake them to get to sleep is to write them out. (so please don’t feel obligated to read on, these are just my crazy thoughts!)
This is my first Christmas in my new apartment and my mom gave me several leftover Christmas decorations to spruce up my place with. One thing she gave me was an old nativity set. It has seen more Christmases than I have. Most of the cattle’s horns are broken off. There are now only two wise men. And one of the shepherds has been replaced with a power ranger action figure. It is my favorite decoration in my apartment. I began to wonder where the nativity scene originated since church history has always been an interest of mine. Usually, with these kinds of things, it is a tradition that took years and years to develop into what we know today in the church. However, with the nativity scene, it had a definite starting point. It began with St. Francis of Assisi. In 1223, St. Francis wanted to have a special mass for the people of Grecio. He decided to bring a manger (called a créche) filled with hay, and an ox and a donkey to the mass. He set this up to commemorate Christ’s humble birth. The people came for mass and it turned into a beautiful, tender night of worship. St. Bonaventure wrote about that night, “…[A]nd being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He [St. Francis] called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.” It was reported that Psalms were sung and St. Francis stood by the crèche and was “bathed in tears and radiant with joy”. As I began to read further, the word “crèche” kept appearing. Crèche can be defined as a manger. But crèche is also the same word used to describe a group of adult animals that gather around to protect a baby animal; like a group of penguins that encircle a baby penguin to protect it. This idea of protection has stuck with me this Christmas season. It seems as though more than ever all I hear is “happy holidays” and very little about Christmas. It seems as though few talk publicly about the Babe of Bethlehem, the one whom this season is meant to celebrate. The tears of joy and singing of Psalms from St. Francis’ mass have been replaced by politically correct idioms and holiday sales. I believe that we as Christians, especially during this time, are being called to “crèche”; to protect the Babe of Bethlehem. In keeping with the spirit of St. Francis, I believe that we do that in tender ways. We do not have to protest or “occupy” the holiday. We do not have to be louder than anyone else. I believe we just simply focus on the babe and allow the tender tears to flow and the songs of adoration to be sung. We do as the wise men and the shepherds (or power ranger action figure depending on your nativity scene) did and simply kneel at the manger.
In addition to protecting the Christ child, I pray that Christ and all his Angels and Arch Angels protect you this season! I pray that His Holy Spirit forms a crèche around you and that wherever you go it is “Jesus to the front of me, Jesus to the right of me, Jesus to the left of me, Jesus behind me. Only Jesus.” Merry Christmas. Jacob Courtney
Blessed are you Jehovah, forever and ever, for giving us the doorway to the Kingdom of heaven in Messiah.
Beautiful! Gives me tears, never will look at a manger in the same way again.