I followed a twitter thread last week that made me cry with laughter, people were sharing what part they or their children had played in the school nativity. It was started by someone sharing a note from a school asking for the parent to provide a chicken costume for their child in the nativity. A chicken, where did that feature in the nativity? But that was far from the most hilarious or curious character to be included in school nativity plays across the land and beyond. The nativity play tradition is also popular in Brazil where there's also traditionally a shepherdess and a woman who tries to steal the baby Jesus!
This different way of doing things maybe nothing more than a novel way of including everyone but it also challenges us to re-examine our established traditions. In this Bible reading at the outset of Advent we are drawn to consider a new branch springing up out of an old tree.
Advent is an opportunity to imagine how things could be. To consider what new things might spring up from the established traditions, and not just from those traditions related to Christmas.
It was only a few years ago that Jesus as an infant refugee came to new life in our retelling of Christmas, this was in the aftermath of the large number of people travelling long and difficult journeys to reach safety. What world or local events might make us reimagine or reconsider the journey to Christmas this advent?
In a world where conflict claims too much innocence and fullness of life, Christian Aid is encouraging us all to become peacemakers this Advent as we journey towards the Prince of Peace and imagine a world where there is Peace on earth..
Is it too soon for nativity plays
to include the slaughter of the innocent?
The end of the seasonal story,
screams at us now from silent screens.
And while the tinsel will soon be hung,
and fairy lights will blink
Christmas seems hollow tonight.
We pray for those in places of conflict
witnessing an inhumanity
no one should have to see,
no one should have to bear,
heartbroken by a despair
no one should have to know.
Give them strength beyond themselves.
Hold them in the way only you can.
Comfort them as the Prince of Peace.
And give us ears to hear,
hearts to care,
Make peacemakers of us all,
14 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’