Alright, so I’m about to blog on something that’s a hot topic…at least it is for me!
Christmastime. We all have our issues that we think are important, don’t we? Some people think it’s super important that we say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” I, for one, am a Christian that celebrates Christmas, but I have no problem with using the “Happy Holidays” terminology. I mean, Halloween/Reformation Day/All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years (not to mention those that we don’t really celebrate, like Kwanzaa and Hannakuh,) all occurring in the span of 2 months are THE HOLIDAYS.
Kate Conner got on her high horse about Christmas music. Since I have all the Christmas music that I’ll ever need already (my mom made sure of that!,) I’m not really even stressing out about that.
But here’s my beef. Where are the shepherds in the Nativity sets???
When we got married, Josh’s mom passed down a little ceramic nativity set to us. It wasn’t sentimental or anything; I think she had recently purchased it at a thrift store for $2. It came with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, an angel, three wise men, a donkey, a cow, and A SHEEP…but no shepherds! Not only did it lack shepherds, but it was really tiny, so I decided to use it for the time being until I could get a bigger set that I liked.
Apparently, at my house, the time being is six years.
A few years ago, I decided it was finally time to look for a new Nativity. Well, I knew what I really wanted: a Willow Tree set. But since I would have to sell several real sheep to be able to afford it, and I don’t have any sheep, that was out of the question.
For the past two years, I’ve hit after-Christmas sales looking for The Perfect [yet affordable] Nativity. One year, I even dragged my husband and children all over the mall on this hunt. My discovery? Nativities rarely come with ANY shepherds. If they do come with a shepherd, it’s just ONE shepherd. However, they ALWAYS come with THREE wise men.
So why does this bother me? Well, let’s look at the facts:
~ Scripture indicates that the angels (I’m talking a multitude of heavenly host!) appeared to the shepherds the night that Jesus was born. And that they ran to find the baby in the manger POST-HASTE! So, they were definitely there!
~ The Bible doesn’t tell us how many shepherds there were, but I like to think that there were a good number. The only time of year that shepherds would have slept in the fields with the sheep was during the spring when the Passover lambs were being born. So I would think that there would be more than one or two shepherds there protecting the very important lambs from wild animals.
~ The wise men, although important, were not at the Nativity at all. We can be pretty confident of this because, A) when the wise men arrived, Mary and Joseph were living in a house, not a stable! Not only was it not the night of Jesus’ birth, but Joseph had also had time to find a place for them to live. B) When Herod found out when the wise men had first seen the star that corresponded with Jesus’ birth, he had all the little boys two and under in Bethlehem killed. Which says, to me, that the wise men, although they saw the star when Jesus was born, took about two years to get to Jerusalem.
~ We do not know how many wise men there were! The Bible does not tell us! We make the assumption of three because they had three gifts.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m OK with wise men being a part of a Nativity Set, provided that we explain to our children how the chronology of the Jesus’ first few years really went. I think that the symbolism of the Wise Men and the gifts are important at Christmastime.
HOWEVER, I think that if we are going to recognize the wise men, we DEFINITELY need to recognize the shepherds. They were there! They are important!
Although I don’t think manufacturers are leaving them out for spiritual reasons, it is easy to make a spiritual connection with the lack-o-shepherds situation. Wise Men? They were well-to-do, educated dudes. No wonder they make it to our Nativity sets! But shepherds? They were dirty. Common.
Jesus came for both kinds of people. But maybe I feel so passionately about this because I can relate to the shepherds a lot more than I can relate to the wise men.
So, my Nativity hunt? I stopped trying to find one, but then, at a consignment sale in October, I found this:
It had two redeeming qualities: the fact that it was less than $5, and this little guy:
Welcome, common shepherd. Maybe some day, after this blog goes viral and all the Nativity manufacturers change their ways (hehehe!), there will be more of you.