We need not parent alone
December 22, 2020
Blessing of the crèche at Arima Boys’ RC
December 22, 2020

What’s Christmas without a crèche?

By Juliana Valdez

It is a sight we behold annually all over the world. In shopping malls, store fronts, parks, village squares, churches, front yards, inside houses, big ones, small ones, some elaborate, some simple, some with life-sized figures, some figures miniature—they are many and varied, well lit up and beautiful to behold.

What are they? The representation of the Nativity scene, or the crèche, as these scenes are commonly known. It is a must during the Christmas season, amidst the tinsel, the holly and ivy, the bells and bows, the strings of decorative lights, the Christmas trees. After all, what is Christmas without a crèche?

The question is, however, what does this depiction of the most holy night in history mean to us? Is it just a beautiful, artistic piece to admire, or does it evoke that sense of wonder, the acknowledgement of the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophesy, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given a Son is given…”

While viewing EWTN’s The Catholic Sphere recently, host Brian Patrick shared a documentary on the origins of the crèche.

The narrative revealed that in the year 1223, St Francis, while returning from Rome to Assisi, was fascinated by the beauty of the countryside at Greccio. It reminded him of the stable at Bethlehem, where our Saviour made His way into the world.

Inspired, he sought permission and erected, for the first time in history, the first crèche depicting the Nativity scene, with real animals in the stable. In this depiction however, there was no image of Mary or Joseph.

Five years later, a church was erected, and the depiction of the stable at Bethlehem, the crèche became an annual exercise where, at Christmas time, the mystery of the birth of Jesus is relived.

Today, we are caught up with the commercialism of the advertisements, the shopping, and the physical preparation, that we tend to forget the real reason for the season.

Yes, we admire the many crèches we see, but maybe this Christmas season, we could take a moment to allow our imagination to transport us as it did St Francis, back to the stable at Bethlehem.

Using the lyrics of some of the traditional Christmas carols, we can enter into that mystery of the birth of the Saviour, a time when scripture was fulfilled:

It was a Silent Night, a Holy night, when all is calm, all is bright…The night sky is filled with brightly shining stars, shimmering like thousands of diamonds; it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth!

While the shepherds watched their flock by night, all seated on the ground, the angel of the Lord came down and glory shone around!

They were told to “Fear not, we bring tidings of great joy…”

They followed the star, and found in the stable, away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head to the lowing of the cattle…

“Come,” they said to the little Drummer Boy, there is a new born King to see. So, he played his drum for Him, he played His best for Him, with the ox and mule keeping time…

And the kings came, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They bent their knees and worshipped…adored…the Wonder Counsellor, the Prince of Peace……

What child is this who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? He is God’s gift of love to the world!

This Christmas, let us in turn give love to one another, after all, no greater gift is there than love! The crèche reminds us of this.

Merry Christmas everyone!