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The Nativity and the Cross

December 9, 2010

(Another old favorite from the old blog – originally posted January 4, 2007)

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes, we are healed.

(Isaiah 53: 3-5)

I was reminded of these words because of a Christmas mishap. The words are familiar to me from Handel’s Messiah, but not the Christmas part – the part for Holy Week and Easter.

Here is how it happened…

John bought me a beautiful Nativity set for Christmas. We were at Sam’s Club the week before Christmas and the set was half price, and reasonably within our budget. It’s a gorgeous porcelain set with real fabric clothing and lots of interesting embellishments. It’s also quite large – St. Joseph is nearly a foot tall! It includes a shepherd, sheep and a donkey (not pictured here). We decided that we could keep it safe on top of the piano or the “library table” in our sun room (really our family room). We knew that it would add a new and very meaningful element to our Christmas celebrations for years to come.

We brought it home and squirreled it away to set up on a Christmas Eve as a surprise for the kids.

Christmas Eve was a very busy, and rather tiring day We went to Saturday night Mass for our Sunday obligation, but the house (and time) were still filled with haircuts, finding clothes, photocopying music, finishing up homemade Kris Kringle presents and many other things.

That night, John and I were so tired that we decided to sleep for a few hours, set the alarm, and get up in the middle of the night to set up the nativity set and such. So at 1 am we groggily rose and started putting things together. It turns out that clumsiness is heightened at that hour (go figure!) and I managed to bump into John while he was holding baby Jesus and the manger and he dropped both. Poor Baby Jesus – his head broke off and one leg was broken. The manger suffered some ill effects too. John and I just sat on the floor and stared forlornly at the broken pieces for some long moments.

As providence would have it, they were clean breaks. John was able to glue the head back on and the leg sits rather safely (though somewhat loosely) nestled in the swaddling clothes. The manger leg was glue-able also, though it is a little chipped along the crack.

And so everything worked out (although the spot we chose on top of the piano doesn’t have any room left for the three kings – we’ll have to figure out something for that before Saturday). It’s a beautiful set to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas and the kids have been incredibly good about not moving or bumping the pieces around (they do have our much smaller and unbreakable Fontanini set that they can move around as much as they like).

But now I will always be reminded of the Cross whenever I see our poor broken Baby Jesus.

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