Of Crèche Sets and Christ

Merry Christmas!  I hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of our Savior, the birth of Hope!  I hope it was full of family, fun, and frivolity!

This post today is short(er) – I don’t want to take you away from family for too long!  They are really just some random thoughts I have about the real Story of Christmas: Jesus.

A Crèche Set Story

I grew up in a household that had probably about 20 crèche sets.  I loved looking at all of them and putting them out each year.  They each were unique and special to me, each bearing a memory of Christmas past.  I’m not sure I could choose one favorite.

When I got older I started to wonder: which one was Mary’s favorite?


The Gifts of Santa Claus

Growing up, there was never any doubt that Santa existed.  It helped, I suppose, that I spent those early childhood years in Germany, where Nikolaustag was celebrated on December 6 each year.  My parents were quick to equate St. Nicholas and Santa Claus (as they should – they are the same person), and thus saved me a great deal of trauma in finding out the “truth.”

Of course people believed in Santa!, child-me thought.  I figured all the hoopla in America was just in honor of him.  I was about eight when I realized the truth: many children believed in an actual human being (elf?) who lived at the North Pole, had flying reindeer, and delivered presents every Christmas.

Being a highly rational creature, I decided the best thing to do was to make up for lost time.  I went into a sort of denial-based belief, and literally CHOSE to believe Santa was real.  After all, I had lost a valuable eight years of not putting cookies and milk out for Santa!

This only lasted a year or two.  After all, I knew the truth.  Now, I’m a married adult and looking to eventually in the future have children…And I’m faced with this dilemma: what do I tell my kids?

It’s a hot button issue in our culture, and things can get personal quickly.  But I think if we looked at the actual person of St. Nicholas – whom Santa Claus is derived from – we might just feel a little better about the concept of “Santa” (which just means “Saint,” anyway).


The Light of Santa Lucia

I have always loved the lights at Christmas time.  I even wrote a blog about them several years ago.  Light brings warmth, hope…and it symbolizes an indescribable longing.  A longing that maybe – just maybe – the Light will overcome the Darkness.    

Is it any wonder light is tied to Christmas?  We longed for a Savior – even the Gentiles had this longing.  We longed for Light to triumph over the Dark forces of this world.

And then the Light of the World came, and He dispelled the Darkness from our souls, giving us the hope of Life (John 8:12).

This longing for light is universal, and never more so than in the winter months, when light (before the advent of electricity) was scarce.  The pagans had their traditions about winter and Light…and God used that in a very special way.  One of those ways was through Santa Lucia…


Seeking God in the Stories we Tell at Christmas Time

It’s that wonderful time of year once again!  There is holiday cheer and well wishes, gift giving and receiving, and an all around joyful atmosphere (usually).  The lights are up, Santa’s are out, and creche sets have been placed.

And once again, it’s time for an advent blog.  It’s actually my fourth Christmas blog, although I kind of cheated last year by just incorporating Christmas into my existing series.  It worked…but this year I didn’t do a fall series, and I was left in the quandary of having to figure out a suitable blog.

I’ll admit, I was all out of ideas.  At first I was going to just “blog” a short story about the Christmas season (which will one day, God willing, make it into a novel).  However, I wasn’t satisfied with that option. I’m just not ready to be *that* vulnerable yet, and I felt I didn’t have sufficient time to do research or flesh out the characters.

I toyed with the idea of not posting anything at all, but that seemed rather lame.  So, I asked myself, “What is a good advent blog? What stories do we tell about Christmas?”

And then it hit me: Santa.


The First Triumphus of the Babe of Bethlehem

“…having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them…” ~ Colossians 2:13b-15

Everyone loves a baby, and so it is no wonder the secular world has fallen in love with Christmas.  It’s a time for giving and being with family, when cozy traditions are made, and lights are all around us.

Yes, our world loves Christmas, but they seldom love the Savior who initiated it. They want the glitz and the warmth, but they don’t want the cross He was destined for.  I think a lot of people are like Ricky Bobby, choosing to think of an “8 pound baby Jesus” rather than the victorious, risen Messiah.

But the cross was the reason for the manger, and so you cannot separate the two.  Paul makes it clear in the verses above that the cross was the reason for Jesus’ first advent, His coming.  And so we must ask ourselves: why did He come, this Babe of Bethlehem?

Paul supplies the answer readily: He came to forgive and cancel out our debt.  He came to triumph over our enemies…


For the Stone-People

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” ~ Luke 2:10

“And do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” ~ John the Baptist to the Pharisees and Sadducees, Matthew 3:8-9

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”  But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” ~ As Jesus enters Jerusalem, Luke 19:39-40

That seems like an odd collection of verses up there.  What does the angel’s declaration to the shepherds have to do with rebuking Pharisees and God making stones have voices?

Truth be told, I have no clear “evidence,” except for one Greek myth and faith in an all-knowing God…


Loving your Inamici: Christmas Lived Out

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies…’” ~ Matthew 5:43-44a

“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” ~ Romans 5:10

Last week I talked about how we were strangers to God, and how He showed us unimaginable xenia by coming to us.  However, to leave it at “strangers” is a bit of an understatement.  As Paul says in Romans, “we were enemies” of God.

And yet, we know God loved us.

To love your enemy is counter-cultural in any age, however I can’t help but laugh at what the Romans would have thought of this.  After all, hating your enemy was thoroughly ingrained in their very politics…


mythos, Myrrha

The Redemption of Myrrha

“You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?” ~ Psalm 56:8 “Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: Read more…