BY ANN RENNIE
Every time we see a nativity play we see children stepping into that miraculous story with their loving humanity.
There is Mary from Year One, serious about her role as mother. Joseph is one of the older boys, in brown and with a false beard and tugging at the cord around his waist.
The three wise men are the primary school triplets and the real live three month old baby Jesus has been borrowed from his family for an hour. He is lying on straw and swaddled in clothes from Target.
As the children present their special play their innocence shines, a balm for hearts that have hardened in the light of disappointment and rejection and the year’s misgivings, and a jolt of joy for those for whom the year has been good.
However the year has panned out, with its surprises and duties, its tears and triumphs, seeing a nativity play or kneeling in front of the home-grown manger near the altar, we find again a little of that child in us and grow kind. Dressed in white, with multi-purpose fairy wings securely tied, star-spangled seraphim sing out glory to the newborn king.
The slumbering hours are gladdened as they were on that first silent night, holy night.
As we pause to pray, to go to the vigil or midnight or morning Mass, we listen to favourite carols and hymns rumble through parish churches. We are reminded that we too belong to the holy family of each other; the small holy family of kith and kin; the middle-sized holy family of friends and team mates and the smiling bus driver who drops us to work every day of the week; and the giant holy family of the Church on earth.
As we journey through Advent we think ahead, prepare, anticipate and remember again that first fateful night when the human story changed forever in the birth of a boy in a rural backwater. As we look again at the nativity story we know again the truth incarnate.
As we kneel to pray and remember that hallowed night long ago, let us be swaddled again in the garments of innocence, reborn to the world around us.
Ann Rennie is a Melbourne writer who also teaches senior students in a Catholic girls' school. Her book The Secret Garden of Spirituality (Reflections on Faith, Life and Education), was published in 2011 by Michelle Anderson. Flickr image from cowley_mail.
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