By Miriam Rossow

Every Christmas we pull out bins and bins of decorations. Well, actually, I get them out right after Thanksgiving; usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My favorite decoration is the nativity. I actually have about 50 different nativities. The kids and I counted them one year.

I have nativities from China and Paraguay. I have nativities that have been handed down from relatives. I have a cement nativity from Isabel Bloom that was given to Justin and me by his parents during our first few Christmases we were married.

I have nativities that the children made as art projects or even just because we needed something to do at home. I have ornaments that are nativities and wreaths that hold nativities.

And I have activity sets: you know, the nativity sets you let your kids play with and move around. When my oldest daughter was 3 or 4 she called all nativity sets, “activity sets.”

I have to be honest; I let my kids help put all the nativity sets out, even the breakable ones. So every year she would very gently help me place the nativities around the house. The cement one because it is large and heavy goes under the Christmas tree.

Naomi called the nativity set an activity set because she moved the pieces around. She would tell the Christmas story and she would set up the figures and get them into the action. I even remember having My Little Pony and Dora involved in the nativity scene as well….

Her favorite way to arrange the set was with all the people and animals facing baby Jesus. She would set them up in a circle around the baby Jesus in the manger. She loved to have baby Jesus at the center, and she loved to have everyone able to see Jesus and have their whole attention on Him.

…she loved to have everyone able to see Jesus and have their whole attention on Him.

As she maneuvered the characters she was able to retell the story. She was able to add herself into the story of Jesus along with other characters from her world, which I think really grasped well the fact that Jesus is for everybody!

The nativity might not get everything right about the story (the Magi were still a couple of years away, it may have been more of a cave than a stable, there is no mention of a donkey …). But what it does do is allow the story of Christmas to become part of your story.

When you bring a nativity scene into your home and let your children (whether age 5, 14, or 30) play with the characters and move them around, you are able to share the beautiful story of Jesus with each other and those who enter your house. Or maybe you can take one with you to share with whomever you meet.

…you are able to share the beautiful story of Jesus with each other and those who enter your house. Or maybe you can take one with you to share with whomever you meet.

Naomi had it right. The nativity is an activity set. It is not meant simply to be stared upon but to be moved and shared and told and retold. When you move the pieces and characters, telling and retelling the story, it comes to life and is easy to remember and hear for those who may not have heard it before.

So grab your activity set and share the story!


Our Advent worship this year is shaped by pieces of the Nativity. Join us Wednesday, November 18 at 6 p.m. for dinner, and program at 7 p.m on “The Importance of a Nativity in the Home”. Then begin the story of Advent with us, during Sunday Worship and Advent Midweek. We are excited to partner with pastors from our sister congregation, St. Paul-Ann Arbor, as we get caught up in the action of the nativity set, Jesus becoming flesh for us.

Advent Worship
Sundays at St. Luke, Living Water, ULC, and St. Paul
Wednesdays at St. Luke-Ann Arbor: meal beginning at 6:00 PM; family worship in the Great Room, 7:00 PM
Wednesdays at ULC: meal starting at 6:00 PM; Advent Worship 7:00 PM