An Advent Nativity Scene Tradition
Pregnancy is a wonder.
When Francis was first born I remember sitting for hours, stroking his tiny ears. I was in awe at the intricacies – the delicate cartilage, the soft fleshy lobe, the mechanics that allow him to hear me whisper, “I love you.” He was a bundle of toes and arms and cheeks, made with only a resting “yes” on my part. Consent, passive nurture, and love were all God required to bring my son into being. So it was with Mary; so it is with the faith of Advent.
We often think we have to make Christmas come.
Perhaps part of this blog’s popularity is due to the mass of young parents trying to bring Christ or rather, to muster the Christian sentiment, during this season. So to those who might be feeling the pressure of the season, a quick note of encouragement: All this stuff in this blog, all these ideas about how to do and be Advent are nothing to the one simple fact that Christ will come whether you are ready or not, whether you feel Him or not, whether you do or not – all He needs is a willing womb, a place of safety, nourishment, and love.
From Watch for the Light:
“The wise men had their gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Paul and Peter had their preaching. Mary offered only space, love, belief. What is it that delivers Christ into the world-preaching, art, writing, scholarship, social justice? Those are all gifts well worth sharing. But preachers lose their charisma, scholarship grows pedantic, social justice alone cannot save us. In the end, when all other human gifts have met their inevitable limitation, it is the recollected one, the bold virgin with a heart in love with God who makes a sanctuary of her life, who delivers Christ who then delivers us."
Leave behind your briefcase and notes and proof texts. Leave behind your honed skills and knowledge. Leave the Christmas decoration up in the attic. Go [to your family] and say, “Here, all I have is Christ.” And find out that that is enough (99).”
Like Mary and like pregnancy, we create holy ground and give birth to Christ in our time not by doing but by believing. All that is required is our trusting consent.
These pictures are from my Nativity, by Willow Tree. I found a pregnant Mary that I use instead of the one with the newborn Christ to remind me that rather than doing something, my family will spend Advent being something special. All these tools and activities are only clutter unless they are helping us with that end.
On Christmas morning, Mary will no longer be pregnant and Christ Jesus will be in her arms.