As I sit at the computer this morning, I have part of the Nativity scene at my right elbow. I no longer have a mantel over a fireplace to put this elaborate set up, so the top of the bookshelves is the area designated. The sheep and shepherd boy are frozen in action, some are looking up, some are supposedly grazing (on the fabric I placed them on) and there is a small ceramic fire and rolled blanket next to the shepherd laying on his back looking up at the "night sky". The Holy Family are on the taller bookshelf next to them, so they aren't gazing at one another, but that's the best configuration I could come up with, so there you have it.
The part that has me somewhat confounded is, where do I put the Wise Men? When I had the mantel, I could gradually introduce them to the scene, somewhat emulating the arrival by bringing them closer as Epiphany draws nearer. But I have no such area for the tableau this year! What to do, what to do? I took the figurines out of their boxes yesterday and placed them on the bookshelves below where the scene of Mary, Joseph and Jesus are placed. But somehow putting them in front of the Harry Potter books, seemed wrong! So I moved them in front of the collections of poetry and anthologies. Was that a good place for them? And what of the camel who keeps falling over? I've tried fixing his spindly legs bending them to and fro. Yesterday two of the legs simply snapped off. Well, that fixed that, I guess! I went on line to order another camel since I can't have three kings with only two camels.
And I got to thinking...who cares where I place my figurines? I don't have any special guests coming over to view my "set up". No one even cares if the figurines are there, except me. And then I thought something else. While it is true that no one in my immediate vicinity cares about my tableau (read husband), I care. I need to be reminded that the people who originally came to see the "newborn King" were not probably Jewish. The shepherds were outcasts as they could not follow the strict cleansing rituals nor observe the Sabbath as other devout Jews could. And the Wise Men from the East were mystics, following signs and portents from the heavens, not again, devout Jews. And of course, we really don't know how many Wise Men there were either, right? Nowhere in the Bible does it say there were three, it just lists the three gifts. There could have been twelve or two. Again, you may ask, who cares? Well, I think I care as well as lots of others who are still looking for some hope this Christmas and throughout the year. The three Kings as we refer to them, remind us that seeking the love and grace of God through Jesus is an ongoing trek. I know I need as much love and grace as I can get based on my interactions with my fellow humans. And I seek God's healing love and open arms when I am most depressed and sad about circumstances beyond my control.
So Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar are standing on the bookshelf below the Holy Family, waiting for their cue (that would be Monday, January 6) to make their appearance in my Nativity scene. They are currently surrounded by authors from every nation and every belief system and isn't that just a perfect analogy for the coming of the Wise Men?