WE WERE THERE, published by Grosset & Dunlap from 1955 to 1963, were my favorite books.  I think I read all 36 titles and perhaps you, too.  They were retellings of historical events and featured one or more children as primary characters.  Each book placed us inside the story as first-person observers while the dust jacket guaranteed, “We Were There books provide exciting stories based upon true historic events. Each story is checked for factual accuracy by an outstanding authority on this particular phase of our history.”   When CHRISTMAS SCENESwere first conceived, those books came to mind.  The Little Rascals also came to mind, but that’s another story.   I was also troubled by the inaccuracy and incompleteness of the nativity I grew up with, and perhaps you, too.   To quote Lemony Snicket, I’ve come to believe the nativities we grew up with and often cherish are products of “a series of unfortunate events”  and the product of artistic license and product design necessity,  having to force the story into box, a picture frame, or a single stained glass window, regardless of “factual accuracy”, with little “outstanding authority” or respect for a “True historic event”.

On the contrary, CHRISTMAS SCENE angels do not have wings, baby Jesus does not have happily outstretched arms and legs, He doesn’t have a halo, the kings and camels don’t appear with the Babe, and everyone’s clothing doesn’t appear freshly dry-cleaned.   And if “we were there,” we would certainly no so.   Christmas Scenes were also designed for all God’s children, families, friends and classmates alike, to assume the role of every character, or narrate or play the stage manager in true “we were there” fashion and faithful to scripture.

KINGS & CAMELS

  • The original language defines Magi not as kings but as wise, influential and wealthy men with knowledge of astronomy.
  • It took quite awhile for them to arrive from countries that were likely 1,000 to 1,500 miles away, traveling at a camel’s 4MPH gate, with rest stops, over-nights, re-stocking time, a few no-travel days and a meeting with King Herod, who asked them to look for a toddler, not a newborn.
  • They found Jesus as “a child in his home”, not a babe in a manger.

WINGS, HALOS and SWADDLING CLOTHES

WINGS are only mentioned in Ezekiel’s and Isaiah’s vision of seraphim and cherubim as artistic, symbolic and structural additions to the ark of the covenant and a throne.  When mentioned in scripture, angels are described as “appeared”,  “were” or “flew” as ministering spirits, none of which require wings since angels are not bound by natural law.  In art, such as Bourguereau’s masterpiece “Song of Angels,” wings were adopted by renaissance and medieval sculptors, stained glass artists and painters to distinguish a heavenly visitor from a mortal.  For additional study on this subject, please consider www.the-gospel-truth.info/do-angels-have wings and http://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/6-2.htm

HALOS are not mentioned in scripture,  In paintings, they represent light and holiness and distinguish Christ among the masses.

SWADDLED CLOTHES are the only humble covering mentioned in scripture.  Swaddled is a full wrapping seen even today through a maternity ward window.

CLEAN & FANCY is far from the worn, torn and dirty that might follow a long days in the desert.   And since there were no cosmetics, glitter, glamour or dry cleaners in those days, Christmas Scene characters and clothing look the part.

WAY TOO LOT  is often too much and often included in a nativity simply for profit and not for purpose.  If it’s not biblically correct or culturally accurate, you won’t find too much in a Christmas Scene. Christmas Scenes expand by adding another verse, such as An Unexpected Visit with Gabriel and Mary, A King In the Way with Herod and the Wise Men, A Time To Go Jesus and His family escaping to Egypt – or culturally appropriate items like a courtyard well, since in those days a group of homes shared on – or a set of pack camels and attendants that surely traveled with the Wise Men.