It is December. We decorate our homes - trees, strings of lights, candles,
boxes brightly wrapped - the whole roll out of concrete Christmas.
It is time to bring out the nativity scene, or cr?che - on the mantle, on a table,
under the tree - in some place where it can be seen and, if the moment is
right, contemplated. Putting up the nativity scene can be a spiritual practice.
What if, in the Spirit of the season, the cr?che characters began to talk? What
if they asked us questions to bring home our faith, to encourage us into
gratitude and commitment? How would we answer?
The nativity scene spiritual practice has three steps.
1) Put out a nativity character.
2) Read the monologue for that character.
3) Respond to the question at the end of the monologue.
Putting out the cr?che characters as a spiritual practice does not insist on inserting time
schedules into the arrival of the characters. But it does suggest putting out the characters
one at a time. A piece-by-piece approach counters the temptation to put out all the
characters at once and get it out of the way. "Christmas rush" is a powerful cultural
influence and it can impact all activities. But putting the cr?che up is not about getting it
done. It is about doing it, the experience of acting and reflecting. In the process, you will
deepen meaning and appreciation and truly "come home" to yourself in a new way.
Christmas is about homecoming.
Who goes first?
The suggestion is to begin with the Wise Men and end with the Child in the
Manger. The Child in the Manger is the center of the scene. He is both a conclusion to the
symbolism of the cr?che as well as a beginning of what comes after. The child will grow
into a man and the revelation, hinted at in his birth, will unfold into its full glory. The Wise
Men and The Child in the Manger bookend the practice.
The middle of the practice can be random or ordered. If random, choose any of the
characters and proceed from one to the other. Mary may come third or fifth. Joseph may be
second or fourth. What is listed is merely a suggestion.
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