I read an article this week which suggested a couple of figures may want to be added to our annual nativity display. The first was a dragon, from the reference in Revelation 12 to the dragon waiting to devour the child born of the woman. The imagery is harsh and not exactly parallel to the birth of Jesus, but we cannot forget the spiritual battle we face as followers of Jesus. Satan wanted to thwart Jesus from accomplishing His goals but failed. No wonder the angels were around Bethlehem that night — not only to inform some shepherds but perhaps to protect the baby. No wonder it wasn’t just some angel choir as we so sentimentally concluded. Nope, it was an angel army. So I suppose we could add a dragon to the manger scene, but I’m not convinced.
The second suggestion was to add a baptismal font. In history, John the Baptist does prepare the way for Jesus, so liturgically, Advent often begins with baptisms. We have done that with our recent tradition of having baptisms part of our Celebrate Thankfulness evening (aka pie night). I had never put it together that by doing baptisms we were starting the season with a nod to John the Baptist. But it makes sense.
But then the article got interesting. The author said, “In the early church, people were baptized in a church-adjacent building called a baptistery, shaped like a Roman funeral building. With a twinkle in their eye, early Christians built these baptismal houses to remind their converts: You are coming here to die! You have already died. Sin has killed you! You are just enacting your death that has already happened. And in this place where you are joined to Christ’s death, you will rise.” (Julie Canlis, CT online). Therefore, maybe we add a baptismal font to the nativity. Again, not convinced.
But, as baptism symbolizes our entrance into life with Christ, so this season of the year invites us to enter the story of the coming of Jesus once again. This is an important week as we celebrate the coming of Jesus. I’m not suggesting a dragon or a baptismal font at next year’s nativity scene. But I do want to encourage you think deeply about how you can honor the Savior and about all the ramifications of the story we tell. Consider if you have joined into the story personally. Consider if you truly understand the fierce spiritual warfare in His day, which continues into our own. And choose to worship Him. Choose to follow Him.