When you hear “a Nativity Scene,” what is the first image that comes to mind? Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in a manger. Right? It’s a beautiful image of a long ago event that we celebrate each year, reminding us of God’s “good news to all people.” You’ll notice, however, that this year our theme for Advent is not exactly the same as the traditional Nativity Scene. Notice the different spelling: A Nativity SEEN. It’s a provocative play on words that invites us to not simply remember Jesus’ nativity, but to look for evidences of nativity all around us. Instead the SCENE of a nativity, we are focusing on SEEING the nativity in our daily lives and in our world.
It goes back to the meaning of nativity, “the process of being born.” A Nativity Seen asks us the question: How is Christ born and made alive in our lives and in our world today? And that question becomes personal for each of us as individuals — and for us as a faith community. How are we participating in “birthing” Christ in our world and in our lives? We see a nativity, Christ born, in grand and bold actions as well as in small and easily overlooked gestures and lifestyles. And what we understand is that Christ and his gospel are born every day and every time we follow the ways of his witness.
During these next four Sundays leading to Christmas, will you join me in prayerful reflection on how you and I as individuals and how we as a church family are actively participating in the “birthing” of Christ? We all know that fear and anger continue to hold a powerful influence on the ways we move through our days and make our decisions. We all know how easy it is to fall back into old prejudices and assumptions that do not provide a better path on which to move forward. These were not the proclamations of the angelic chorus at the time of Jesus’ birth then — and they are not the proclamations of the people of faith who are continuing to bring Christ alive in our world today.
This Advent season asks much more of us than sentimentality. We are asked to be witnesses of the most glorious proclamation the world has and ever will hear: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. For to you a savior is born. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to all people.”
How will the world see Christ born through you in a world so in need of this profound good news?