Showing posts with label Nativity set. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nativity set. Show all posts

Friday, December 25, 2015


A favorite passage from one of my favorite books is the quote below from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte, two young Englishmen, meet at Oxford in the period between the two world wars. Charles is not a believer, and Sebastian is from an aristocratic Roman Catholic family. After they've been friends for a while, Sebastian brings up the subject of his faith and Catholicism. What follows is the dialogue between the two:
Sebastian: "Oh dear, it’s very difficult being a Catholic!"

Charles: "Does it make much difference to you?"

Sebastian: "Of course. All the time."

Charles: "Well, I can’t say I’ve noticed it. Are you struggling against temptation? You don’t seem much more virtuous than me."

Sebastian: "I’m very, very much wickeder," said Sebastian indignantly."

Charles: "… I suppose they try to make you believe an awful lot of nonsense?”

Sebastian: “Is it nonsense? I wish it were. It sometimes sounds terribly sensible to me."

Charles: “But my dear Sebastian, you can’t seriously believe it all."

Sebastian: "Can’t I?"

Charles: "I mean about Christmas and the star and the three kings and the ox and the ass."

Sebastian: "Oh yes. I believe that. It’s a lovely idea."

Charles: "But you can’t believe things because they’re a lovely idea."

Sebastian: "But I do. That’s how I believe."
I love the passage, because Sebastian's way is how I believe, too.  The entire Christmas story, including the virgin birth, is a lovely idea that points to God's choice to take on human form to become one with us in the person of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate.  Whether the precise details of the story are literally true, that Jesus, Son of God, was born of a young, unwed virgin in a humble stable, laid in a manger, and later visited by angels and shepherds, I choose to believe it, all of it. 

A number of my fellow Christians tell me that though they believe Jesus is God Incarnate, they simply cannot believe in the virgin birth, because such a thing is impossible.  To me, Mary's virginity is simply one of the details of the larger story of God become man in Jesus.  If I believe what seems to me in human terms even more impossible, that God became incarnate and dwelt among humans 2000 years ago and is still alive and with us today, why would I have difficulty believing in the virgin birth?

The picture shows the nativity set my mother made in her ceramics class some years ago.  I didn't put the figures on display this year, because I didn't want Scarlett the Cat to go near them.  Maybe next year.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


A lovely reflection on the Feast of Epiphany from Katie, head pastor at Queen Anne Methodist Church, inspired by T S Eliot's poem, "Journey of the Magi".
The story of the Magi, which culminates in the Adoration of the Magi on January 6 – Epiphany – is a story about uncertainty, journey, death, and birth. Many of us look back to the story of the Magi believing it to be part of our spiritual history, but, a more mature faith looks to the story as something much more meaningful. It is about us searching for God. We struggle. We search. We come to what feels like unsatisfactory endings to our travels only to be led down yet more paths to unknown destinations. We go through periods of deep uncertainty. Like the Magi, we little understand the culture or the ways of Jesus and his family. Like the Magi, we are distanced from them by space. Unlike the Magi, we are also distanced by two millennia; time is its own ocean we must cross to meet the Christ-child. Like the Magi, we must die to our gods in order to enter into the presence of the God of the Most High.
First lines of the poem:
"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
The entire poem is here.

No wonder the camel in my Nativity set is sitting down. He's sore-footed.

Monday, December 23, 2013


My mother made the Nativity set in her ceramics class more than twenty years ago, so it's one of my treasures.  I have Magi and camels, too, but I need such a large space to display them all, and by the time Epiphany comes, Christmas is over.  Facebook friends suggested placing the Magi and camels elsewhere in the house and slowly moving them closer to the Nativity figures.  The figures are breakable, so I'd have to think of places to put the future visitors that would be safe.  I broke the fingers off the shepherd with his hand extended, but I mended the break, and I'm grateful the fix has held together for years.  One of the camels is sitting down, but I could move him along in his lazy position.

Since churches are having Lessons and Carols services, here is my pre-Christmas carol, a lovely version of  "The Wexford Carol" with Yo Yo Ma and Alison Krauss.

Monday, January 7, 2013


...which still stands on display in my living room?  I said yesterday that the tree would come down, but it has not happened.  Maybe today, but I make no promises.  The Nativity set remains on display also, with no "It's still Christmas " excuse left, because here in south Louisiana, the Carnival season has begun, and king cakes are all around.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


The Nativity set made by my mother a good many years ago in a ceramics class

Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

(Luke 2:10, 11)

Merry Christmas in:

French: Joyeux Noel
German: Fröhliche Weihnachten
Spanish: Feliz Navidad (Come on, you knew this one)
Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest
Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce
Norwegian: Gledelig Jul
Polish: Wesołych Świąt
Welsh: Nadolig Llawen
Greek: Καλά Χριστούγεννα (Kalá Christoúgenna)
Swedish: God Jul
Hebrew: חג מולד שמח
Simplified Chinese: 圣诞节快乐 )Shèngdàn jié kuàilè)
Canada: Merry Christmas, eh?

From Now Public.