Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Creche, the Witness, and Action Figures

While putting up the Nativity scene on the mantel, I'm reminded of an exchange I had with my son Aidan when he was about six. I had told him to clean up his room, and put the "dolls" away. He responded, predictably, with a gasp: "Those aren't dolls, Mummy."

Well what are they if not dolls, I asked. They have a head, legs, arms, a body.

"They're action figures," he replied, indignant that I didn't know.

And so it is with the Creche -- these are not dolls, they are "action figures" and they are acting out the greatest, most dramatic story we could ever be told.

As the kids put up the nativity scene, I tell them the story, so they can get the sequence right. Chronology is very important because we are, after all, a historic faith. God acts in time and space, he acts in our lives, but does so in an ordered sequence of time. And it's important that children get a sense of how God intersects -- and creates -- time and space.

And so we talk about the shepherds watching over the sheep and being totally surprised by this sudden appearance of an angel. And how it took the Wise Men 2 years to get to Bethlehem. My son thinks it's pretty cool that they took so long walking those camels right across the desert, carrying their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrhh.

Ironically, it's the historical perspective that makes our faith vital and fresh. Chagall has this sense in his art, as the divine characters swoop down into the human realm, elevating the profane to a sublime condition by its brush with the sacred.

History helps us understand where we've come from, and give an inkling of where we might be going. That's what makes for identity.

The creche and its "action figures" is one concrete way of expressing the sequence -- the birth, the shepherd witness, the coming of the Magi -- that occurs within the greater sequence -- Creation, Incarnation and Resurrrection.

1 comment:

TRES CEE said...
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