This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, weather permitting, we celebrate Christmas on the Hillside of Church of the Open Door with worship centered on the Incarnation of our Savior, Jesus Christ and wrapped around a living nativity scene.
Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 (a “living” one) intending thereby to cultivate the worship of Christ. The scene’s popularity inspired communities throughout Christendom to stage similar pantomimes and eventually to create elaborate and ever more elaborate static exhibitions with wax and ivory figurines garbed in rich fabrics set against intricate landscapes.
These nativity scenes are accurate, if you’re limiting the players to those described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, but if you expand the search to include all of the books of the Bible, you discover that one very important personage is missing—important if you want to understand what’s really going on in the universe.
The Bible tells us that there is a war going on that we cannot see with our eyes. Spiritual warfare is the ongoing war between invisible, angelic forces that affect you and me. A biblical view of the universe is this—everything visible and physical is the result of something invisible and spiritual. Christian, we are at war against the forces of evil and the battles are being lived out in our daily lives and the lives of those we love.
And never was that battle raging more intently than that holy night Christ was born away in a manger, in the little town of Bethlehem.
There was someone besides the Mary and Joseph anticipating the birth of the Son of God…an evil one, a liar and a murderer…the devil.