If you were born into a practicing Catholic family, nine times out of 10, your family had a Christmas crèche. The French word for the trough where food for animals is set out, these nativity sets are used to illustrate the story of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ and those who came to worship at his feet.
As we get older, many of us come to realize that the nativity set is so much more than just some wooden figures and pieces of sweet straw. There are actually a lot of ways that the purpose of a crèche can be used to enhance our faith life this Christmas. Read on for some interesting things to consider as we near Christmas.
To Fill Your Heart, Add Less
Over the years, Christmas has become the “season of consumption.” From Black Friday until December 24th, we spend our time buying more gifts, spending more money, and running ourselves ragged as we try to give one another the “perfect” Christmas. But isn’t that the exact opposite of how Christ himself came into this world — not as the King of Kings, but as a lowly servant?
To steep ourselves in his love, we need to allow ourselves to share it fully with others. As cliché as it is, we need to gift our presence to others, not just our presents. Instead of purchasing the latest iPhone for your husband, doll for your granddaughter, and makeup for your aunt, consider sharing an experience with them. Spend a quiet afternoon making cookies or snuggling on the couch with hot cocoa and a movie. Or have an active morning sledding on the nearest hill. These are the things that will be remembered years from now.
Jesus Changed the World When He Arrived – Let’s Change with It
Keep the light of Christ burning bright throughout the year by strengthening your faith life. Make the commitment to celebrate Mass and receive Jesus in the Eucharist more often. Experience God’s unending love and forgiveness by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis. Spend time with Our Lord through Eucharistic Adoration. These simple acts, so readily available to us, can have a profound and lasting effect when we take part in them often. Say yes to God’s gifts!
Help Yourself by Helping Others
A well-known quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta is about love: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” How true that is. Spending time serving others with love is a wonderful way to share the light of Christ. Whether we help just one or many, service can lift us out of our own segmented world and allow us to remember what is most important in life.
Enjoying the Christmas season doesn’t necessarily mean we should give up our love of all things Christmas, like singing along to carols on the radio, spending a night decorating the tree, admiring Christmas lights on houses, or even Santa Claus. But it does mean prioritizing within ourselves what is most important.
The Christmas crèche is a wonderful reminder to all of us of the importance of focusing our attention to the true story of Christmas. From the wooden figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph lovingly crafted and farm animals displayed around the manger to the Wise Men who make their appearance in January, it all connects. Their Christmas story should be our Christmas story — a story of saying yes to God.