Charity Nativity Crib at Lakeside shopping centre
Traditional nativity cribs usually contain modelled or carved figures representing biblical characters associated with the account of the birth of Jesus. These figures are invariably arranged around a centrally placed baby Jesus who is laid in a manger on the floor of an open barn-like structure. For a complete assembly there are usually figures representing the baby Jesus, Mary His mother, Joseph His legal father, three Wise Men (Magi), the Angel Gabriel, at least one shepherd, a donkey, a cow, and perhaps a couple of sheep.
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More correctly a nativity crib should contain a number of figures representing shepherds who had been visited by ‘an angel of the Lord’* when they were keeping watch over their sheep. He told them that they would find the Babe (Jesus) in a manger. They went to Bethlehem and found Him there along with Mary and Joseph, just as the angel had said they would. Afterwards the shepherds told many people about their experiences before returning to their abandoned sheep.
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The Magi, not necessarily three, because no mention is made of their number, actually visited the young Child later, when He and his parents were in a house;** they worshipped Him and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
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So, strictly speaking, a nativity crib should only contain a number of figures representing shepherds, the Christ Child and His parents. On the other hand, it would appear that artists or craftsmen creating these things, do so with artistic licence, and include figures associated with events before and after the Boy’s birth.
*Luke 2:9 **Matthew 2:10
Text for the Day
Luke 2:12 ‘And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’
There is a photo of a life-size Nativity Scene at my blog here: