Regi from the Scargill Community writes:
I come from Kerala, India, where Christianity has been around from the first century AD. Every culture has a different way to celebrate Christmas and share the story of Christ’s love, building up a tradition within a community, and Kerala is no exception. I love Christmas traditions!
One thing we have been doing for many years is competitive crib building. It gets really exciting as every church builds their own fancy crib to compete with other churches around. Building these magnificent mangers, and entering into the competition, brings communities together with a shared purpose and an excuse to eat together. Young men and women trek out into the forest in order to harvest the necessary kudil grass to decorate the manger, this grass only sprouts from the end of November until around Christmas Day.
On Christmas Eve, the streets and cities get crowded when groups of people from all churches go to visit each of the Cribs, scoring them as to which is the best. The church with the most points receives that year’s award.
Even though it seems to me that this ‘Crib of the Year’ competition can get incredibly serious, I love it that we use this tradition to bring Christmas onto the street, sharing the joy and fun of our celebrations with people from all backgrounds.
A humble, borrowed barn it was
that held God’s glory in new-born babe.
The Light within the child’s eyes:
Body little, dependent, frail,
beating heart and quickened breaths,
Gift to humankind.
The stall made blessed by Life within -
Not tinselled, sparkly lighted.
Centuries on, grand staged likenesses
of muddied mangers,
Signs for all to see
that humble King,
He judges for right,
He judges for mercy,
Calls out the powerful for bullying ways.
The poor are His brothers, His sisters, His loves,
His mother and father on earth were of them.
Though now He is small, though now He is silent
(hidden in straw, received in love),
Let us sing loud, join with the angels,
“Jesus is here – Glory to God”.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him –
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord –
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash round his waist.