The Blessing of the Creche by Sue Monk Kidd. Beautiful Christmas quotes. (December 2017)

Susan's Thursday Morning Note December 7, 2017
The Blessing of the Creche by Sue Monk Kidd.  Beautiful Christmas quotes.

Good morning!  Beautiful stillness.  Coveted moments handed again this morning from our angel of dawn.  This week I read an interesting note on the history of the nativity.  Another word for nativity is creche.  The meaning of nativity is cradle or manger.  Below is a description of the first live nativity scene as St. Francis of Assisi was preparing for midnight mass in 1223.  This description was written in the 1200’s by St. Bonaventure in his writings on St. Francis.  Following this entry is a poem by Sue Monk Kidd on setting up her “Creche” after purchasing a hand-carved set in Bethlehem and bringing it into her home.  A beautiful prayer as she sets each piece out.  This poem is then followed by some quotes that I especially like to help us all keep our perspective of this beautiful season. 

It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness of novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff.  Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and a donkey to the place appointed.  The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise.  The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy, the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ.  Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.  (St. Bonaventure – The Life of St. Francis Assissi)
The Blessing of the Creche by Sue Monk Kidd.

It is time, Lord.  Time to take the holy drama from this cardboard box and set it beneath the tree.  
    As I blow away the dust, may this little creche come to life in our home and bestow its secret blessings.
Bless this wooden stable, Lord.  This lowly abode of cows and donkeys.  
    May it keep me humble this Christmas
Bless this tiny star beaming at the top.  
    May it light my eyes with the wonder of your caring.  
Bless the little angel.  
    May her song flower through our house and fill it with smiles.
Bless this caring shepherd and the small lamb cradled in his arms.  
    May it whisper of Your caring embrace of my life.
Bless these Wise Men bearing splendid gifts.   
    May they inspire me to lay my shining best t your feet
Bless this earthly father in his simple robe.  
    May he remind me of all You have entrusted to my care.
Bless this Virgin Mother.  
    May she teach me patience as I tend to my own little ones.
And bless this Baby nestled in the hay.  
    May the love He brought to earth that Bethlehem night so fill my heart with compassion and warmth that it becomes a Christmas gift to others.
Now the creche is here, Lord...and we are holy participants.  
    May Your secret blessings come to us as a spark from Your glory...a candle that never goes out.  Amen
“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”   Charles Dickens

Because of His boundless love, He became what we are in order that He might make us what He is.”   St. Irenaeus (130-200 a.d.)

“Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children; to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and to ask yourself if you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear on their hearts; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open? Are you willing to do these things for a day? Then you are ready to keep Christmas!”  Henry VanDyke

“The human life cycle no less than evolves around the box; from the open-topped box called a bassinet, to the pine box we call a coffin, the box is our past and, just as assuredly, our future. It should not surprise us then that the lowly box plays such a significant role in the first Christmas story. For Christmas began in a humble, hay-filled box of splintered wood. The Magi, wise men who had traveled far to see the infant king, laid treasure-filled boxes at the feet of that holy child. And in the end, when He had ransomed our sins with His blood, the Lord of Christmas was laid down in a box of stone. How fitting that each Christmas season brightly wrapped boxes skirt the pine boughs of Christmas trees around the world. ”  Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box

“I know what I really want for Christmas.  I want my childhood back.  Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn't make sense, but since when is Christmas about sense, anyway? It is about a child, of long ago and far away, and it is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of or hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded and terribly vulnerable to joy.”   Robert Fulghum

“Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever. Even though you grew up and found you could never quite bring back the magic feeling of this night, the melody would stay in your heart always – a song for all the years.”   Bess Streeter Aldrich

Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world." Winston Churchill Christmas Eve Message, 1941

“...And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas 

This beautiful season.  Where the children still can hear the bells as they are rung.  Shiny reflections from lights in eyes, puddles, windowpanes, glass.  Beauty.  The season that takes our minds into the past.  That somehow has the ability to bring all of the seasons of our particular songs into one consolidated moment for a few measures.  The season where our minds easily take us the past.  Can we train our minds to focus on this year?  On what is beautiful in our lives this year?  Regardless of what is not in our scenes any more?  Will we consciously make an effort to realize that all around us are gifts.  As Winston Churchill wrote above.  Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasure…”  Today.  We are given this gift.  For a reason.  To look into the eyes of those we see the next few weeks.  To smile.  To show the moment as worthy of living for them and for us.  Today.  So beautiful.  This season.  Our gift.  The manger.  Our creche.  Our nativity scene.  Can we picture ourselves not thinking of ourselves, but instead on our knees in the live scene welcoming the baby?  Welcoming the one that makes this all meaningful and full of wonder. 

Thank you again for letting me enter your Thursday.  Tonight we again will have the opportunity to write on our stone.  To write the epitaph with words on the moments we will be handed today.  Will we have any words worthy of inscription?  Our moments are passing what seems to be too quickly through our glass sand timers.  But, if we stop, we can possibly hold the moment.  Notice the moments.  Notice particular beautiful moments we will have in our minds the rest of our days.  My moment – a little child with a baton directing his Little People in song.  The beauty of the moment.  Susan

Latin for this week:
nativitas – birth
adventus – coming
Dies Natalis – day of birth

Works Cited:
St. Bonaventure.  The Life of St. Francis of Assisi.  North Carolina.  St. Benedict Press. 2010
The Night the Stars Sang: The Wonder that Is Christmas.  New York.  Revell.  1990.