Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Last night Seraphina and I started our decorations for Christmas (Sorry all you hard corers that don't like to do it until the 24th....).  We put up our tree, our wreath on our front door, and set up our nativity set, all of which were extremely beautiful and came from her family.  It is so wonderful being able to decorate for Christmas (this is only the second year I have done it since my old Protestant denomination did not celebrate Christmas).  We decided that until Christmas, our nativity set will not be a nativity set but rather an advent set.  So, here is how we set it up (I took pictures, and will upload them later):

Mary and Joseph are both facing an angel hanging on the wall so that it looks like the angel is speaking to them.  The wise men are coming from the East and are gathered together meeting with each other, on their way to meet the Christ when he is born.  The shephards are slightly closer to where the manger will be, and are on their way with all the animals.

We thought this was a good way to remind ourselves that it was still advent and that we are preparing for Christ (both to celebrate his birth and watching for his second coming).  


mel said...

Sounds beautiful!

I know that the SO many Prot groups do things differently....but to not celebrate Christ's birth? I know you are very much at home in the RCC, and I applaud your faith and intensity. I do shake my head, however, when I read so many RC convert stories about how "strange" their Prot days were. No wonder you went looking! 8-) Enjoy the Season, and relish each moment!

~Joseph the Worker said...

Well, from a "sola scriptura" position, there is no date for the birth of Christ, and no command to celebrate it in a worship service, so yeah, easy to reject :)

Anonymous said...

I once asked my preacher whether it was wrong to put up a nativity scene, and he said, "Why would you?" And he went on to explain that the popular nativity scene was inaccurate because it pictured the wise men coming to Jesus at the same time as the shepherds, when the wise men met Jesus afterward when he was older and living in another house. I mean, I don't think it's wrong to put one up, but he had a good point. Why do nativity scenes combine the wise men and the shepherds?

Anyway, I gotta get off of here and the forum. I've been posting all day, pretending I don't have a 10-page paper due tomorrow!

~Joseph the Worker said...

Matt, great question. This is one of those questions that greatly perturbs a lot of fundamentalists I think, along with the idea that Christmas isn't REALLY December 25. More specifically, though, this comment comes down to a misunderstanding of iconography. When we portray an icon, it is not necessarily EXACTLY what a person looked like or how an event took place, but rather something to bring our minds to focus on God or some aspect of him (even an icon of a Saint is meant to draw our attention to Christ). A nativity scene draws our attention to all the wonderful scene of Christ's birth and the traditional imagery associated with it. It doesn't make an historic statement, but rather puts our mind on Christ - just like the date Dec. 25th probably isn't the day Christ was born, but it is when the Church has chosen to celebrate that birth in the liturgical calendar.

Rene'e said...


Some people put the figures in at different times during Advent and the Epipthany. Sometimes the baby is placed in the manager at 12:00 Christmas Eve or Christmas day,this is custom for Catholics. The wise men sometimes are not put in until the Epipthany. And last, some people include all the members the day they set it up.

Francis of Assisi and the First Christmas Creche
It was the bitter winter of 1223, and Francis was living in a little rock-hewn cave, close to the village of Greccio, in the Italian province of Umbria. Here, he was very much alone, praying and meditating. As it was drawing near Christmas, he pondered over the wonderful story of the Incarnation. A great desire took possession of him, to bring this message home to the hearts of the villagers, and so all were asked to come to the village church at midnight on Christmas Eve. Full of curiosity, they obeyed. All came from far and near, picking their way by the light of lanterns, up the steep hillside to the church.
There they found a comer of the Church which had been transformed unto a stable, strewn with clean, dry straw, and in a crude little wooden crib, lay a tiny sleeping figure of the bambino, wrapped in swaddling clothes, much like the Holy Child must have peacefully slept, on that first Christmas Eve, twelve hundred years before.
In awestruck remembrance, the Peasants knelt in adoration. After mass was sung and Francis himself had read from the Gospel, the little congregation streamed out into the frosty night air, and took their way homeward, their hearts filled with a mysterious wonder and the song of the angels still ringing in their ears - "Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace to men of goodwill."

~Joseph the Worker said...

What a beautiful story Rene, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Cool that.

Rene'e said...

I am happy that you liked the story. I really like it too! Our Catholic traditions are wonderful, in that they can make our Catholic past a part of our Catholic present and future.