There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?

I am posting this for the Tour of Homes. Obviously it is more word-focused than most of the tour posts are, but our house is under construction and we kept decorations to a minimum this year. There’s a big plastic sheet keeping drywall dust out of my living room, which isn’t really something I’d like to share with the internet. So I am offering this picture of our crèche instead with the hopes that you will remember that the Incarnation that we celebrate was also for you.

For the past several years, one of our church’s traditions has been to set up a nativity on a large table either in the front of the church or in the back. Every person in the church was then invited to bring a figurine to symbolize themselves there at the nativity, for all of us to come and witness and be present to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Every year, to get us started, our pastor brought his Reverend Lovejoy figure. There were Transformers and Polly Pockets and Legos and Precious Moments and, oh, almost everything you can imagine. It reminded me a bit of The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas by Madeleine L’Engle, in which all manner of animals attended the birth of Christ. Except that this was about the people, how Jesus came for all of us. It is silly, to be sure, but it always seemed like an act of faith to me, to place yourself there, to stake a claim that you believed that it was all for you, too. I never managed to bring something in to symbolize me. This is partly because of my fear of joining things, and partly because it is so much easier to say that Jesus came for the world than it is to say that he came because of my sin and sadness, to melt my dark of doubt away.

I thought about this earlier this week when I saw the post Emily’s sister wrote about the wise men playing with Barbie dolls. I realized that we weren’t doing it this year at church, which is probably, after all, a good thing. You don’t want to wear out your traditions, after all. You want to keep them fresh and new, to change them up from time to time. I hope we bring it back, though. I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to do more than just show up for the party, what it means to be present and to celebrate. I feel like I am almost ready to take my Nancy Pearl action figure and place her on the table there among my friends who love me. I am almost ready to believe that there is not only a spot for Optimus Prime and Mr. Potato Head, but there is also a spot for me.

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(First person to make a joke about libraries and silent nights will feel my wrath. Also, I don’t really wear sensible shoes.)

It was so fun for me to put myself in the nativity scene that I wondered if other people might join me. Find something to represent you and take a picture of it there with the sheep and the shepherds and Mary and Joseph. (And little tiny Baby Jesus if you happen to have one quite as small as we do.) Put your link in the comments so the rest of us can see it, too. Say it bold, that the birth of Christ is for all of us, no matter how we see ourselves.

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