The Nativity Scenes of Christmas (Rebecca Rice)

Today on the blog, Rebecca Rice, the Counseling Center Director, shares her favorite Christmas traditions.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:11-12)

A number of years ago, I decided to greatly simplify our Christmas decorating. Brian and I no longer had a young child in our home and our family was beyond celebrating the sweet traditions of childhood. I had (although, not by design) several nativity sets that held both fond memories from the past and signified a holy hope for the future.

One of the first nativity sets I purchased was done so in the year that my last living grandparent died.  Grandpa Hamberger left a small amount of money to each of the grandchildren and, in remembrance of him, I used that money to buy this beautiful creche from Bethlehem, hand carved from olive wood.

When our son Matthew was young, he enjoyed playing with each piece. Every night after he went to bed, Brian would hide baby Jesus and Matthew searched for him the next morning. As Matthew got older, he would then hide baby Jesus for us to find; although, there was a time when we spent 3 days trying to figure out what happened to baby Jesus. As you can see, he was found!

About 10 years ago, Brian and I visited Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata, a fair trade, non-profit that sells handmade crafts from around the world. I was drawn to this hand painted clay creche from Peru. The design is simple and sleek, earthy and warm.

Recently, our growth group was discussing our favorite parts of the Christmas story. I would have to say, I am particularly intrigued by the the wise men–men who were by trade astrologers and interpreters of dreams and omens, men who knew that the heavens displayed a sign pointing to the one true King, men who desired to worship what they did not know. These men were drawn to the power of God and with great intent searched for him.

Earlier in December, I attended a Christkindlmarkt, also known as a German Christmas Market.  Popular in Germany, they are known for selling handmade Christmas items, including the nutcrackers that are so familiar to us all. This candle arch creche shows such intricate fine craftsmanship, even down to the sheep’s wool. It is a beautiful piece of workmanship.

Our family has a rich, strong German heritage, predominantly centered around food. My very favorite Christmas delight is Anisplätzchen, vanilla anise drop cookies. Every year my mom bakes these cookies. They have a few simple ingredients, are time intensive to make, and when done, are light and not too sweet. They are delicious!

The nativity scenes are a beautiful reminder to me of God’s simplicity, beauty, and unique creation–designed specifically for each one of us as he demonstrates his great love and power that came to us an infant, wrapped in cloths and placed in a manger.

May this be a time of simple, meaningful traditions, shared with those you love.

Fröhliche Weihnachten ⭐️

Blessings to All,

Brian Rice

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