Advent season is upon us! And thanks to my nativity advent calendar, it has forced me to keep a goal of doing some spiritual study each day. Not only am I keeping my goal for 2015, but I am also connecting to the simple and everyday life that I know God lives in.
Day 8: Wise Men wait a minute?!? what? I thought the “Three Kings” came in January. Well, technically they do. But they saw a star and followed it. They didn’t juts arrive at Bethlehem the next day. Again, this nativity teaches us that God came into our world, worked through our time lines. The wise men had to leave eventually between seeing the star. Who knows, maybe they were on the same path that Joseph and Mary traveled weeks before. But they did begin the journey. And so starts the little wise men’s journey..
Day 9: Camels a comin’ : More reiteration of the reality page: each wise man has their own camel. Now-I get a kick because one of the camels looses its head every year because the glue failed. But I am thoroughly excited about adding them into the nativity. And I like to think about the living nativities that seem to think camels are essentials living animals to the story 😉
Continuing the theme of real world entering and the ordinary becomes extraordinary… my nativity advent calendar adds the following:
Day 7: the Palm Tree
Now–you’re probably thinking “ok Sara…you’ve got to be kidding me!” and yes–the first year I had this nativity I thought it was kind of cheesy that they decided to include a palm tree as part of the kit. I’m sure there’s some truth to finding 25 things they can make small figures out of for a kids’ advent nativity and palm trees were it (there are two FYI.)
But interestingly enough, now the tree reminds me of the two themes this nativity is teaching me. That Christ came into the real world and made the simple things matter. Made the every day important. And that’s pretty comforting.
Translation: no matter where you are in life, no matter what you are doing or what things it entails–God will be there. Why? – Because everything matters to God. A palm tree, a donkey, the stones on the path…they all matter.
Ha! You think that because today is Saturday, I forgot about advent! Nope…it’s still here and so am I
Day 6: stepping stones to Bethlehem.
One of the many reasons I love this nativity. You get to travel on the journey to the manager with everyone. Mary, Joseph, the animals, Kings and shepherds. It’s a lot of fun. And you get to make the stones and straw that are part of that journey.
Which is what the advent season is about…the journey with everyone to the manager. It’s beautiful. If you think about it, most nativities are kept within the manager scene, maybe a little outside with the arrivals of the Kings and shepherds and maybe a drummer boy. But this advent nativity brings you into the story, just as God brings us all into his.
Day 5: Create straw for the donkey to lay on If anyone has noticed…many a nativity are created with “fairytales” in mind. Their pretty, tell a pretty little story. It’s hard to connect with the birth of our Lord seeing little twinkling stars and a clean stable. And this nativity keeps this in mind. Today is the day you will begin to realize Jesus’ birth happened in a real place. You are asked to make something-actually physically do something. Not only that–but you are asked to make something to remind you that this story happened in a real place, where donkeys needed a warm spot to lay down in a smelly, possibly cold and damp stable.
By the way–here’s one my nativity to prove my “fairytale” point 🙂
Day 4: The Donkey Here is where the nativity gets interesting. Angels, virgin birth–these things appear to be expected as we look back on the text. The donkey? Maybe not as much. There is nice story about a donkey in the Old Testament that yells at a prophet (serious–in Numbers), but this donkey is not that kind of donkey. This is the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem. He’s special for carrying the Mother of the Son of God. So many a nativity will include the donkey after the holy family. It’s a reminder that the ordinary became extraordinary at Christmas. Praise God!
Day Three: Joseph I always find it interesting that Mary cannot be without Joseph in a nativity. The same is true i the biblical story. Now, we could get analytical and talk about how men were in charge and talk about a lonely woman pregnant in 1st century would need a man– but honestly–i think Joseph is meant to be there for a bigger purpose. Though the Bible doesn’t contain but one story about Jesus’ parents instructing him, I’m sure Joseph did the best he could raising the Son of God. He was still a child at some point and the rest of the world thought Joseph was just being a nice guy taking in a woman who was pregnant before wedlock and raising the child.
So this day I remember Jesus’ earthly father. The man to who stood tall.
A few years back while visiting one of the California Mission, I decided to buy a nativity at the Catholic gift shop. It was an adorable idea–a whole nativity, made of fused clay, walking through the Advent Calendar. Ever since I have purchased it, I love started collecting nativities and really studying what kind of message they interpret of the Christmas story in the image they portray. So in the mood of the season, I thought I would walk through my Advent Nativity as well as through in some images of the nativities I have around the house.
December 1st: Mary : I do not find it weird or unusual that Mary is the first ti appear in the nativity, not the angel or Joseph. I think it is a very pleasant view. It reminds us where the miracle began–with Mary and her devotion to God when she was told she would bare His Son. At first, she probably felt alone. Young, confused, fully reliant on God yet completely scared of what the future was to bring. So when I begun this nativity with Mary and watch it grow around her, it reminds me that while it is our Lord who this season is about, Mary is still present with us as well.
December 2nd: the Angel: Now it makes complete sense to add the angel as the second figure in the nativity. The angel told Mary, told Joseph, a choir of angels told the shepherds and the world of the Glory that was to come. I wish this set came with more angel figures…for I feel after Mary & Joseph’s interaction, the angles could not contain themselves in the heavens and began spreading the good news to the world. But one angel is all I get to remind me of the great events that are to come.
May we remember Mary and the Angel as this advent season begins