We begin our new liturgical year this coming Sunday with the beginning of the Advent season. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. We celebrate four Sundays of Advent, followed by 12 days of Christmas. At the end of the 12 days, we celebrate the Epiphany, when we acknowledge the arrival of the Magi to worship our newborn Christ child and give Him gifts.
Most of us display a Nativity scene in our homes during this season. When my children were growing up, we used our Nativity scene as an interactive, visual tool to celebrate the passage of Advent into Christmas and onward to Epiphany. When we set up the Nativity at the beginning of Advent, only the animal figures were placed in the stable. Mary and Joseph were placed away from the stable, and daily (well, almost daily!) one of my children would move them a bit closer in their journey to Bethlehem, arriving at the stable on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, the baby Jesus was placed in the stable, and the three Wise Men and the camel were placed away from the stable. During the 12 days of Christmas, they were dutifully moved toward the stable, arriving at the Epiphany.
I encourage you to use this teaching tool in your homes this season, as we await, and reflect, and anticipate, and share, and worship. Thanks Be To God!