What does your favorite nativity scene look like, if you have one? Some we pass by in front of buildings, some we have on our shelves and in our houses, and some are even living nativity scenes. They vary in size, in shape, and in the number of people and animals present. Some just have Joseph and Mary, some include the shepherds, and some have the wise men as well. Some have animals of all kinds, and some have no animals at all.
I have a new favorite nativity set this year. This one is made from olive wood and I purchased it in Bethlehem in the Spring. It plays silent night when you turn the star, has Joseph, Mary, and the Christ child, and a couple sheep (one whose head I already had to glue back on- due to the perils of living in a home with a bunch of boys!).
Do you ever wonder how close these nativity scenes are to depicting what the birth of Jesus was actually like? We know the ones with wise men aren’t accurate because the visits of the shepherds and wise men were at least a few months apart. But by combining all the events in one, we get kind of an overall picture of the coming of Christ into our world. That’s not a bad thing- that’s a great thing!
But I do think we need to be careful with all these traditions and popularized pictures of Christmas that we see each year. It is important that we base our understanding of Christmas on scripture, in its original language, informed by archaeology and in the context our understanding of 1st century Israeli culture. Simply put, we need to elevate God’s Word over some of these traditions that we hold so dear.
As you might imagine, this could be a dangerous quest for me and I may step on some toes. Please pray for me. I think it is worth it though, because there are some details hidden in plain sight in the text of Luke 2:1-7 that demonstrate very clearly that the advent of Christ in the world was perfect, and perfectly planned by God. God left nothing to chance in the introduction of His Son into this world.
So let’s walk through Luke 2:1-7 together this weekend. We’ll get as close as we can to seeing the actual events of Christmas and explore why they are so significant to you and me today. I invite you to join us for our socially distanced service Saturday afternoon at 3:30, or our Sunday morning service is at 10:15, where you can join us online or in person. We also have Sunday School classes at 9 for all ages.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to pursuing Christ, Community, and the Great Commission Together with you soon!
-Pastor Nathan Rice