The Nativity's Hope for All Creatures
What makes the festive season so special is that sense of hope and expectation leading up to Christmas Day. Hope is a powerful emotion and few sights are able to inspire more hope than that of a new life entering the world.Perhaps that is why the nativity scene is so timeless in its ability to evoke anticipation, optimism and promise. It was in fact St. Francis of Assisi who was credited with creating the first nativity display in 1223, turning the Biblical narrative into a living, breathing, noisy, smelly tableau that brought a once elusive retelling into vivid experience for the eyes.
Visibly today, from children’s school plays to Christmas cards, Church posters to product advertisements, this scene of the infant Christ in a manger surrounded by highly inquisitive farmyard animals is a firm part of our traditional Christmas celebrations.
Christmas underscores the emotive power of the amazing animals with which we share our world. A nativity image, no matter how sentimentally portrayed, reminds us of the beauty and innocence of these endlessly mysterious and familiar beings who live complex lives beyond our control or comprehension.
The birth of Christ is a prime opportunity to remember that Christmas is not just about humanity. Rather the arrival of the infant Christ promises cosmic, restorative consequences for the whole of creation.
The hope of the nativity challenges us to look beyond the darker side of our use and abuse of animals to a manger scene which compels us to live out the love, mercy, and compassion of Christ in the here and now.
And don't forget to eat your fiber, which only comes from plants.