A Meditation on the Christmas Crib from Bishop Kevin

A meditation from Bishop Kevin, on the recent Blessing of the Crib in George Square, Glasgow.

Emmanuel, God is with us.

St Francis of Assisi in 1233 created a Christmas Crib in the town of Greccio. He wanted people to be able to appreciate the depths of God’s love for them, by being able to see the primitive conditions in which the Son of God was pleased to be born. And so, the figures of Mary and Joseph and the animals and the manger were arranged and, after Midnight Mass, the ‘bambino’, the figure of the baby Jesus, was placed in the manger. The name given by the angels to Jesus at his birth was Emmanuel, meaning God is with us.

Elspeth and I have a crib set at home which we bought the very first Christmas we were married. It is the centre of our Christmas decorations, as the crib is the centre of decorations in George Square and our churches.

As you look at a crib this year, at home, in church, or in George Square, remember that in the Orthodox churches, personal devotions at the crib are very much a part of the Christmas celebrations. Cribs are visited to focus our prayers but not to bribe God to give us what we want; pray not to try and bribe God but because somehow, mysteriously, God is with us, alongside us, and when we pray for others, we bring them with us to visit our Lord. As you look at the crib ask yourself the question, what would you take to the crib? Sorrow, anguish, disappointment, joy, the wonder of life’s good things?

As you look at the crib…

Look and see:

Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, born like any human baby with infinite potential to Love and in Love to prove God is Love, and God is with us.

As you look at the crib…

Look and see:

A young, unmarried couple living on benefits in poverty with a newborn baby. Still the baby with infinite potential to Love and to prove in
Love, God is with us.

Look and see:

The poor, the refugees, asylum seekers that Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus were, when they left the stable to seek exile in Egypt. Through the desert that COP26 warned us will change and expand, but still the human baby will have infinite potential to Love and in Love to prove God is with us.

Look and see:

In George Square, a baby with infinite potential to Love – look at a baby and see God.

Prayer for use at the Crib
O God the Son, highest and holiest,
Who humbled yourself to share our birth and our death:
Bring us with the shepherds and the wise men
To kneel before your holy cradle,
That we may come to sing with your angels
Your glorious praises in heaven.
Where, with the Father and the Holy Spirit
You live and reign, God, world without end.
Amen.

My prayer for you
May the humility of the shepherds,
The perseverance of the wise men, the joy of the angels,
And the peace of the Christ Child,
Be God’s gift to you and your families,
This Christmas time, and always.
God bless you all.

+ Kevin, Glasgow and Galloway

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