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Creche St Johns 1-4-10

Creche St Johns 1-4-10

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Published by Derek Olsen
These are the rough notes I used for a talk on the Christmas Creche for an adult forum at St John's Episcopal, Ellicott City on January 4, 2010
These are the rough notes I used for a talk on the Christmas Creche for an adult forum at St John's Episcopal, Ellicott City on January 4, 2010

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Derek Olsen on Jan 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/31/2013

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N
ow three years before his death it befell that he wasminded, at the town of Greccio, to celebrate thememory of the Nativity of the Child Jesus, with all theadded solemnity that he might, for the kindling of devotion. That this might not seem an innovation, hesought and obtained license from the Supreme Pontiff,and then made ready a manger, and bade that hay,together with an ox and ass, be brought unto the spot.The friars were called together, the folk assembled, thewood echoed with their voices, and that august nightwas made radiant and solemn with many bright lights,and with tuneful and sonorous praises. The man of God,filled with tender love, stood before the manger,bathed in tears, and overflowing with joy. SolemnMasses were celebrated over the manger, Francis, thelevite of Christ, chanting the Holy Gospel. Then hepreached unto the folk standing around at the Birth of the King of poverty, calling Him, when he wished toname Him, the Child of Bethlehem, by reason of histender love for Him. A certain knight, valorous and true,Messer Giovanni di Greccio, who for the love of Christhad left the secular army and was bound by closestfriendship unto the man of God, declared that hebeheld a little Child right fair to see, sleeping in thatmanger, who seemed to be awakened from sleep whenthe blessed Father Francis embraced Him in both arms.Affective and speculative blend needed by a matureChristian spirituality
and church. Creche is clearlyaffective.Creche is dominant vehicle for telling Christmas
story; it’s based in biblical sources but isn’t a biblicalstory. And that’s ok—
humans are story-tellers bynature.The issue is determining whether the stories we tellare consistent with the Good News of what God hasdone in Christ.Only Matthew and Luke have birth narratives butthese turn out to be complementary more thananything
o
 
Matthew is all about prophecy fulfillment; Luke isinterested in telling an OT style story.
o
 
We can actually group the crèche figures into fourmain groups: the Holy Family, the animals, theshepherds and the 3 kings.
o
 
The Holy Family is in both
o
 
The Shepherds come from Luke
o
 
The animals
—well, we’ll talk about those in a
second
o
 
The Kings come from Matthew.Speaking theologically, when it comes to ourpersonal and churchly stories about the Gospelthere are three root possibilities: they can
proclaim
 the Gospel,
amplify
the Gospel, or
obscure
theGospel. Interestingly enough, our three groups do just these:
o
 
The Shepherds
proclaim
the Gospel
o
 
The animals
amplify
the Gospel
o
 
The Kings
obscure
 
the Gospel (But don’t worry,we’ll come back and redeem the Kings)
 The Shepherds
o
 
Classic Luke move: shepherds are the outsidersand the nobodies, yet the angels invite them.
o
 
Deep symbolic resonance: shepherd used as ametaphor for kingship
YHWH in Pss 77-80, 95,100, etc. Kings as shepherds of Israel: Jer 23, Eze34. David as the classic image of the messianickingAnimals
o
 
How did Mary get to Bethlehem? No animalsmentioned
yet at the first crèche, Francis had anox and an ass. And just think of how many carolshave this specific pair: ox and ass?
o
 
Isaiah 1:1-3 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz,which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem inthe days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah,kings of Judah.
2
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, Oearth; for the LORD has spoken: "Sons have Ireared and brought up, but they have rebelledagainst me.
3
The
ox
knows its owner, and the
ass
 its master's crib; but Israel does not know, mypeople does not understand."
o
 
Shades of John’s prologue—
in the world, worldknew him not; came to own people, people knewhim not.Kings
o
 
The notion of 
“kings” actually obscures the Gospelbecause it blunts one of Matthew’s sharp edges.“Wise m
e
n” actually isn’t any better.
 

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