There are quite a few things I really like about Catholicism. Amongst others, it has nurtured in me a love of theatre and ritual in my life. The cycle of religious festivals with appropriate colours, symbols and texts provide a rich stimulus to imagination as well as feeding the never ending questions of life.
Christmas is, without doubt far more exciting than Easter. I know the liturgical police and the theological prudes will chase me through the corridors of fidelity for uttering such a heresy. But, let’s face it, cribs, carols, trees, candy cane and the spirit, if not the presence of St Nick all work together to provide a lot more excitement than an empty tomb. And we get 12 days to celebrate as well. I always use this as an excuse for sending Christmas Cards right up until January 6th. Wish someone would tell Australia Post about the 12 Days deal so we could continue using the Christmas stamps after December 31st.
Each year I join the universal competition to provide the mother of all cribs. In my young adult years I lived with a community of Capuchin Franciscan Friars where I was introduced to some of the popular European customs in which the Nativity setting became the impetus for creating an electronic metropolis complete with flying objects and a night sky that would have blown Galileo away.
This year at Casa Robertson’s Domestic Church I have set up my Nativity scene in my bay window after consulting the Vatican Feng Shui web site. The Nativity scene is a hand woven from the Philippines which I picked up from the Good Shepherd Trading Circles many years ago. The shepherds have a bit of trouble getting to the main area due to the presence of assorted characters including the Flintstones and Batman. Other visitors at the scene include a small carved figure of St Francis brought back from Japan and a couple of miniature dolls presented to me by the first Korean students at ACU McAuley.
The most popular figure in my Nativity scene with some visitors is the Power Ranger who gets moved all over the place to watch over the gathering and monitor the behavior of the dinosaurs, kangaroos and mermaids.The multicultural features include a Peruvian angel and the recent addition of a Cajaner.
Out of view (as you would expect) are the Magi.. They are currently on the other side of the room and will slowly progress to the crib to arrive on schedule for the Epiphany on January 6th. One year I was away and had an external Nativity. A neighbor took on the task of moving the “Three Kings” through the garden to arrive on time. I really think she ducked out late on the night of Jan 5th and gave them an express run through the shrubbery.
I feel sorry for the poor old “Three Kings”. They don’t really get to make much of an appearance as everything gets taken down and put away as soon as they arive in accordance with a tradition handed down by my wise old grandmother.
So, I hope you are blest with friendship, compassion and solidarity with vulnerable people on the 12 days of Christmas which take us into the New Year with its promise of joy and peace.