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January 2, 2019

Contemplating the Crèche

St Patrick’s, Newtown parishioner Jacqui-Theresa Leiba submitted this spiritual reflection on the crèche (in photo) mounted in the church.

The finding of the wood

The tree logs were found neatly stacked in the park. A pair of hands had placed them there. They were waiting to be picked up by the garbage truck to be dumped or burned but to the artistic eye, they were a treasure trove to begin the task.

The logs varied in lengths and sizes and the textures, colours and tones of each bark told a silent story of where they had all come and what sunlight, shade, temperatures or weather conditions had matured their effects.

We too are like the logs of wood; different in so many ways. Each one has had different life experiences and challenges; weathered many storms and have had blessings of sunshine.

We may feel cut off or cut down by the world, lost or abandoned but trusting in our Father’s benevolence, we are found by Him, picked up and carried forward to be used for a good purpose.

The shaping of the wood

The logs were spliced down the middle, cut at angles, sanded smooth and shaped to create the walls of the stable.  We too are cut; each one of us is smoothened and shaped by the rigours of life but it is all for a great purpose: to be used by the Master Craftsman.

The placing of the wood

The logs were carefully chosen, some discarded. Those chosen were further shaped and placed to create the walls of the crèche. Each piece supported side by side or top to bottom, highlighting the various shapes, sizes, textures and colours to achieve the overall look.

In a family, church, school, or at work, wherever we are, regardless of our role or position, colour or race, the Christian life is meant to be used for a purpose.  The daily living out of that life of purpose is how we grow in faith and serve the greater good, after having surrendered self in service.

The roof material

The palm leaves seen from beneath, fans out from the thick spine of the leaf to create a magnificent looking ceiling offering coverage and protection.   The ‘spine’ of the community is its elders, those who possess the wisdom, knowledge and skills that only wise ageing can bring.

The beauty of the old leaves is reminiscent of the beauty of those who age with the wisdom of God.  They are the ones who can protect and shield others by offering sage, loving, truthful guidance and advice.

The fence

The fence is built up and sturdy in some places, a necessary beginning.  As human beings grow, we build up walls of defence, afraid to be hurt or vulnerable to people and even to God.

The ‘broken-down’ part of the fence, speaks to the falling away or breaking down of our defences, so that we allow the Lord to enter our inner life, lean in and pick up the ‘baby’ from the manger that needs to be fed and nurtured by the Spirit of God, the Living Word, the Sacraments of the Church, prayer and good people.

The two white doves

The doves represent symbols of peace, love, joy and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Paired together, the two represent the bond of earthly marriage as well as spiritual marriage.

The lights strung on dark cloth

The lights represent light cutting into darkness— true Light has entered the world bringing beauty, grace and magnificence.

The star

The star at the top, twinkling in the heavens, pays homage by its brilliance and represents the universal truth that Christ is King of all Creation.

The green shoots

The green, parasite plants scattered around the crèche in all stages of growth, is indicative of the presence of the children and youth in the Church.  They watch, learn and depend on the adults for survival and to teach them lessons on the faith journey of life with Christ.

The earthen vessel

At the very front of the crèche lies an empty, earthen vessel lying on its side. It is there to represent that it all started with Mary and her ‘yes’ to God; the prostrate position symbolises surrender. We are all earthen vessels. Like Mary when she said ‘yes’, our ‘yes’ requires a certain degree of emptiness to be truly obedient to God. We must empty ourselves to make space for our own rebirth.

The crèche is a humble dwelling place where Christ is born and is also symbolic of the birth of Christ in the humble human heart.  The beauty of the crèche comes from a life of simple abundance.  Throughout the ‘house’, each one of us may be made from poor, abandoned material; the virtues of love, joy, hope and peace in simplicity bring true wealth.   The virtues we possess means we remain uncorrupted by the drama and hectic pace of the outside world.  There is hope for Christianity.  We can be a people who are in the world yet set apart. It is in that existence that love can truly grow and blossom and we can share the Good News of Christ’s birth and that He is King of all creation!

How does the crèche speak to you?  What does it say?