Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Thinking about Strange Symbols and Nativity Scenes

I thought I'd write more about nativity scenes and strange symbols.

I've had nativity scenes on the brain, since they start to appear right now, and they often inspire controversy: do we allow them in civic spaces? Do we include the baby Jesus before Christmas? Do we allow children to be creative with them?

Through the years, I've heard of unusual additions to home nativity scenes, and I decided to combine all the possibilities I could think of into one poem, which I included in yesterday's post.

My current nativity scene has lost some key figures through the years. We've managed to keep track of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, probably because they're glued into the stable. We're down to one shepherd and a camel--no wise men to go with the camel, no angels in sight. That's probably a poem right there!

We do have a plastic, purple monkey that our friend John put in the nativity scene years ago. It's a tiny, flat monkey with a scooped hand that came from a game where you try to pick up other plastic monkeys to make a chain. I know that some people might see it as disrespectful (and they shouldn't read the poem from yesterday's post!), but now, most of my decorations have some memory of beloved friends and families attached to them, and I like decorating and remembering.

Plus, I think that if the Gospels teach us anything, it's that God will be found in the most unlikely places and attract all sorts of attention. People will follow who you would never expect to find in the company of God. That purple, plastic monkey can be a symbol of the tax collectors/prostitutes/social outcasts that Jesus invited to dinner.

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