Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nativity Scenes Showcase Birth of Jesus for Christmas and Advent

Nativity Scene from Ecuador ©Katrena
Nativity scenes, also called manger scenes, abound during the days before Christmas, and this can be a great way to remember the birth of the Christ child. These scenes can vary widely in size and materials, but each nativity has a common thread – Jesus as a baby.
Mary Joseph and Jesus – A Simple Nativity Scene ©Katrena
The birth of Jesus is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke in the Holy Bible. These accounts show how God positioned Himself on earth in human form as Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary. Some nativity scenes are quite simple. They may depict Mary holding the baby Jesus.
Nativity Nesting Dolls Scene from Ukraine ©Katrena

Wooden Nativity Scene with Mary Joseph and Jesus ©Katrena
Nativity scenes may include other people, such as Joseph, to whom Mary was engaged to be married. Joseph was of the lineage of David. Joseph, like others of that time, had to return to his homeland in order to be counted for a census that was decreed by Caesar Augustus. Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem for this purpose, and this became Jesus' birth place.

Cross-stitch Nativity Scene ©Katrena
Shepherds are often included in nativity scenes. They learned of the good news at night while watching their sheep and hurried to see the Christ child, who was born in a stable because the local inn was full. A manger became a makeshift bed for Jesus, the Messiah of the world.

Wooden Nativity Scene ©Katrena
Wise men, sometimes referred to as Magi, traveled from the east to see Jesus by following a special star leading them to Bethlehem. They brought gifts of gold (a gift fit for a king), frankincense (a gift fit for a priest), and myrrh (recognizing the primary purpose of the Messiah – to die for the sins of the world) to honor the newborn Messiah. Nativity scenes often depict three wise men as each carries one of the three gifts.

Painted Wooden Nativity Scene ©Katrena
Nativity Scene With Angel in Loft ©Katrena
Angels may appear in a nativity scene. An angel spoke to Mary, informing her of her role as the chosen mother of the Messiah. Joseph was also visited by an angel, who reassured him of the truth of Mary's strange story. The shepherds saw a heavenly host in the sky as they sang joyous praises announcing Jesus' birth.

Nativity Scene with People and Animals ©Katrena
Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus Nativity Scene on Pillow ©Katrena
Animals often make an appearance in a nativity scene also. Donkeys, lambs, cows, oxen, horses, camels, birds, and other animals might be included in a nativity scene. Sheep might be near the shepherds while camels might stand with wise men.

Nativity Scene Painted on Christmas Ornament ©Katrena
Painted Nativity Scene at Church ©Katrena
Nativity scenes may involve handiwork and artistry, from cross-stich to sewing, from yarn on plastic canvas to painting. Some nativity scenes are very kid-friendly and might include music and may even fold for easy storage and travel. Others may be quite fragile, with pieces made from breakable materials or that have been handed down for generations. A nativity might also be encased in an unusual material such as an egg shell or blown glass.

Unusual Nativity Scene ©Katrena
Nativity Scene from Guatemala ©Katrena
Scenes depicting the birth of Jesus often reflect local culture in choice of materials, scenery, and details of the figures.

Child Visits a Live Nativity Scene ©Katrena
Nativity Scene Acted Out in Church Program ©Katrena
Some churches, schools, individuals, or communities offer a live nativity, in which people dress up to represent the holy scene. They may act out the various events surrounding Jesus' birth or may simply stand in place as walkers or riders pass by. Hymns related to Jesus' birth may be sung at a live nativity as well, and live animals may also be included.

Beautiful Nativity Scene ©Katrena
Christmas is a time when many people reflect on the awesome and unusual thought of God humbling himself in the form of a human baby who would not only teach about love but demonstrate his own sacrificial love to all humankind by presenting himself as a perfect sacrifice for all.

Ceramic Nativity Scene ©Katrena

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