Christmas Grumblings

I once heard the description 'pretty poverty' applied to the Nativity. I think that this is a very apt description. We have somehow conjured a picture of a smiling Mary sitting on a pile of clean yellow straw, holding a laughing infant wrapped in a spotless white blanket. They are usually flanked by a serene Joseph and a few smiling cows and sheep. Some freshly washed and brushed shepherds kneel adoringly, while wise men (who aren't supposed to show up 'til Epiphany), present their gifts. Why are there always three wise men? Why aren't they kneeling in manure piles?

Someday, I want to create a Nativity scene of my own. Jesus will be crying, like all newborns do, and He will be surrounded by shepherds who haven't bathed or shaved in a long time. Joseph will look rather frazzled, as any guy who had just helped deliver a baby for the first time would, and there won't be any wise men. There will be lots of manure - people in Bible times probably didn't muck out very frequently, either. The animals will have normal animal expressions on their faces, not friendly grins.

The real problem I have with this 'pretty poverty' is that it begins to take on the glowing appearance of mere mythology, and mythology won't change the world. Mythology is not a personal, life-altering thing, but a Savior who loved us enough to be born in a muck heap is. When we lose the gritty details of the Nativity, we lose the true meaning of Christmas. 


  1. Excellent post, Janie! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Post a Comment

I enjoy hearing what you have to say! You can comment using your Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad or AIM account. If you don't have any of those, you can simply fill in one or both boxes on the Name/URL option. Feel free to leave me a link to your own blog or website - I'm always looking for more good things to read.