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For about 30 years now I’ve been building a Christmas nativity crèche. My godmother

started me on it with the basic set – with four wise ones because we really don’t know the number of wise ones that visited. Over the years I’ve added to the set a bit at a time so I have lots of angels, shepherds, animals and a few townspeople.

This year Dave and I went to Bronner’s to discover many more possibilities and as we gazed at their humongous set we began to dream. Wouldn’t it be cool to tell more of the story of Jesus life? So we added a carpenter shop to detail Jesus young life with Joseph and Mary. We also added some more pieces deciding that they represented particular miracles. The person pouring water from one vessel to another represents Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. The woman standing with her water vessel represents the Samaritan woman at the well. The older gentleman with the walking stick off to the right of the picture looks to me like how I picture blind Bartimaeus whose sight was restored by Jesus.

If we decided to tell the whole story – well, a part of the whole story – it wouldn’t be complete without the cross and the resurrection. And those pieces were available as well. So we added the scene of the crucifixion complete with Mary, the mother of Jesus standing at the foot of the cross, and the disciple whom Jesus loved. I can hear Jesus speaking the words as we hear them in the Gospel of John each Good Friday. “Woman, here is your son.” And turning to the disciple Jesus says, “Here is your mother,” ensuring that Mary would be cared for following his death.

The cross is not the end of the story either, so we added the empty tomb, complete with an angel announcing to all those looking for Jesus, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”

Standing in Bronner’s, surrounded by so many shoppers and having a conversation about telling the whole story in this icon that we share in our dining room may have seemed strange to any who overheard. We felt that it was important not to disconnect the story of Jesus birth from the story of his life, death and resurrection. We wanted to connect the stories, to remind ourselves that the tale we tell of Jesus’ birth is just the beginning of the story. God’s work of reconciling the world to God’s self is told throughout the stories we unpack year after year. Stories of healing and teaching. Stories of reconciling and loving. Stories that invite us in to hear the teaching stories, to receive and to share God’s loving, healing and reconciling seen through the life of Jesus. Where do you connect with this expanded story? What touches you? Where are you being invited into the story of Jesus?