Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


The First Nativity Scene

Nativity scenes on the Logue family mantel.

Yesterday's post on the Nativity Scene in The White House got me thinking about Nativity scenes in general. We have several out at home now reflecting various cultures.

The first Nativity Scene was a live Nativity Francis of Assisi staged in Greccio, Italy in 1223. Francis was greatly influenced in his own life by direct experiences including that of taking on a beggars clothes and begging and later hugging a leper. Knowing the value of the senses, Francis received Pope Honarius III's blessing to use a cave near Greccio to stage a recreation of Jesus' birth. Living nativities spread rapidly and within a couple of generations were expected fixtures in virtually every church in Italy and were spreading further. In time, displays of the scene in statuary form also became common.

Today, the small chr├Ęches on my mantel are a tame form of art compared with the more visceral experience Brother Francis had in mind. His display with lively animals and a live infant, all with their unpredictable nature and predictable smells was more sensory rich. Francis wanted us to live our way into the story so that our imaginations would be caught up in the amazing idea that the King of all Creation would enter into that creation not in power and might, but in vulnerability and love. Smelling the animals, while seeing a real, fragile child lying in a feed box accomplished something in the sense of those present that is missed in most Nativity Scenes, including the ones in my house and in The White House.

Francis is still on to something. If we could enter more fully into the messy reality of that first Nativity, we would stand in awe of the creator who came among us in weakness.

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor


  • At 12/11/2009 10:20 AM, Anonymous Kay Guest said…

    Frank, did you read "Anglicans Online" this week? It is my hope that you will look at it. Just at the end, I felt as if the writer was belittling St. Francis, almost as if he were a joke, and not a real person. I wanted to respond, but my letter sounded more angry than I really wanted it to. Perhaps if you have the time this could send a letter to them? Hope you don't mind me pointing this out to you and being so bold to ask this of you...


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