Many of our Christmas traditions have been imported centuries ago from other countries. For example, lights on the tree were Martin Luther’s idea. The pickle on the tree was hidden around the house for the kids to find, aka modern-day “elf on the shelf.“
The Nativity scene first appeared in 1223 in the village of Greccio, Italy. It was the creation of St. Francis of Assisi. He assembled a group of human actors and live animals as a way of depicting the original circumstances of Jesus’ birth. St. Francis had just returned from a visit to the Holy Land and hoped to capture the hearts of the local villagers through a three-dimensional Christmas Drama. He wanted to generate a feeling of being there.
Sadly, the manger scene has become the center of controversy. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Nativity scene as a violation of church and state unless they complied with the reindeer rule: other secular symbols like Santa and his reindeer must be given equal space and time.
This Christmas season in the Illinois capitol, the Nativity scene has next to it a sculpture from the Satanic Temple of a woman’s extended hand holding an apple with a snake coiled around her with the caption, “Knowledge is the greatest gift.” Of course, my first reaction was outrage, then sadness that the secular world gives equal time to both God and Satan in our politically correct society.
A preacher’s family was putting up the Nativity scene and all of them were carrying one of the figures to put in its place. Mary and Joseph, the Angels, shepherds, wisemen and animals. Then little Scotty came out carrying his favorite toy, a fierce Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was a two-foot tall foam dinosaur. He placed it in the manger where It towered over Jesus; certainly not an item for the nativity scene. Dad said, “Scotty, dinosaurs don’t fit into the Nativity. They lived thousands of years before the baby Jesus.” But you know how hard it is to argue with a toddler. There was now a fierce T-rex in the Nativity scene. But maybe the dinosaur fit just right because over each one of us is a menacing character/issue that threatens. However, there is Jesus reminding us He’s come to handle Satan and our personal T-Rex’s.
Rev Dr William A Lewis