I was looking for an image of the Nativity to use as a background on my desktop today. There was a lot to choose from. But I am very picky about my pictures. And I read an interesting blog on someone else's opinion of the Nativity's portrayal. I had to agree.
Many artists, well intentioned to be sure, show Christ's birthplace as glamorous and holy, with beams of light, glow in the dark infants and halos over Mary's serene face. But I think maybe someone should paint a more realistic representation.
After all it was essentially a barn in a very busy town. I am sure, as one blogger pointed out, that there was poo everywhere. Just a tad dirty. Now maybe Mary swept up a small area for them to sleep in and for her to give birth in. But more on that later. Maybe the animals were attentive, maybe not. I am sure they were aware that their Creator was there but I doubt they were sitting around in awe and reverence. I am sure the Bible would have mentioned that, since God made it a point to tell us that the rocks and trees would praise Him if we ceased to. And He tells us of when Balaam's donkey talked.
The paintings often have chubby cherubs floating overhead, in beams of light. The Bible says that the angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields. It also points out the these men were afraid. I'm sorry but floating babies would not scare me, concern me yes, but not scare me. Could you imagine seeing a short, chubby, baby in the air saying "do not be afraid..."? I might start laughing at that point hearing a baby voice speak to me. I imagine that the angels were fierce looking warriors, hence the reason for the "do not be afraid..".
As for the star, I do not think it was a big bright light shining down on Jesus like a spot light or some tractor beam. And it doesn't even really show up until the wise men are led by it. And they didn't show up for possibly two years after the birth. And Jesus may have been a pale baby, as most are after birth, but I doubt He was lit up like a lite brite toy. And any responsible mother, no matter how young, would have had him wrapped up(as the scriptures say he was) and not laying naked and exposed to whatever the weather may have been at that time.
Now to Mary; she was young, as young as 15 or 16. This was her first baby. She had to have been terrified. She had no family other than Joseph. They were in a strange city and she is due. And now they have to sleep in a barn with smelly animals. I don't know if Mary was obsessive compulsive or not, but every new mother wants a nice, clean place to have a baby. So I think she may have had some time to clean a spot but not much bigger and definitely not the whole place(like I would have wanted to do). She may have been happy after the birth but I am sure she was exhausted and still a little frightened. I was at the birth of my first. I can't imagine it was easy for her and I doubt she glowed as she is often portrayed. She was probably laying down too.
I did find a picture I liked without spending all day looking at the thousands that I am sure are posted online. I am not trying to down play Jesus' birth and say it should not be honored. It was a precious gift given to us from God, who loves us very, very much. But it was more real than just a "pretty picture". I could go on and on about what it may have really been like. How can we relate if it was all glowy and serene and clean. Jesus lived life as we do and so He understands us. He was born and lived in a humble way. So that He can relate to even the poorest of us.
Now it is up to us to accept that "gift" no matter how it was wrapped. Because it truly is the greatest gift ever given to us. To all of us no matter what we have done in life.
Merry Christmas to all and Happy Birthday Jesus.