by Dick Buckingham
by Dick Buckingham
If your home is anything like mine, you probably have a nativity set or two set up to celebrate and remember the birth of the Savior of the world. In my home, we have three. The first is just a large Mary, Joseph and Jesus made out of plaster. These were decorated by our sons a number of years ago and given to us as a precious gift. They still find their place underneath the Christmas tree.
Another is a hand-painted ceramic set that my wife carefully crafted for our family many years ago. It is fragile and shows the wear of many Christmases. The donkey’s ear is broken off and one of the kings is missing his hand. Yet it is a wonderful set that I greatly enjoy putting out each year as it is unique in that the camels are large and beautifully ornate. It is given the honored place of the mantle of our entertainment center, easily viewed but not likely to be bumped.
The final set we found a few years ago is made of plastic and is specifically for little hands to pick up and examine and enjoy. If you press down on the angel atop the manger, the strains of “Away in a Manger” are played. This one we display at a level where the grand kids can see and feel free to explore. We have this one on the bottom shelf of a table we have in our living room that is in full view. It is one of the first places our grand kids visit when they come to our home at Christmas time, because it is there for them.
Each of these sets is special and precious to us. The last two, in addition to the holy family, are complete with heavenly host, shepherds, sheep, a cow, a donkey, camels and three kings adorned and bearing gifts. The one for the children even includes a border collie and a west highland terrier, the two most recent pets we have had in our home.
But there is one thing in our manger scenes that you don’t typically find in most manger scenes. Each year, after I have arranged all the pieces just so, I add the final piece to our scene…a cross. Yes, a cross. Now I am fully aware that we most often think of the cross at a different time of celebration: at Easter time and specifically Good Friday. So why put a cross in the manger scene? The manger seems so lovely as we celebrate the Infant’s birth. Why put a symbol of death, and a particularly cruel death at that, in such a wondrous scene of joy?
I think that Christmas is a very appropriate time to think of the cross. After all, why else would the world celebrate this birthday? The church has not set aside December 25th to commemorate His birth just because he was born in a lowly manger. Nor is it because a host of angels attended or that he was visited by humble shepherds and wise men from a distant land. We do not sing carols of this event because He lived a sinless life, even though He did, or performed many miraculous signs and wonders. It is not because of His incredible teaching that we recognize the One in the manger.
There is one act and one act alone that is the reason we celebrate this birth. The angel announced it to Joseph (Matt. 1:21) and the host proclaimed it to the shepherds (Luke 2:10-12). This One’s birth was important for one and only one reason. This Baby born to the virgin Mary would save His people. Save His people. And this He did on that cross.
And that is why you will find a cross in my nativity scene.
We at Faith Christian School would like to wish you the most blessed and wonderful season of celebration this Christmas. May you come and adore our Savior, Christ the Lord!