The Nativity Scene and the Animals

Alison JamesArticles

When we revisit the Nativity scene of Jesus the Christ in celebration of his birth in Jerusalem, we are reminded that he, the Avatar of Love, was born into a life of humble beginnings and simplicity.  His birthplace, the stable, provided his mother and father, Mary and Joseph, with the shelter they needed and at the same time that shelter housed the animals. Man’s symbiotic relationship with the animals was intertwined even here in this, the greatest story ever told.

The animals that surrounded the baby Jesus, were domestic cattle and sheep, those that we recognize support human life even today; how appropriate that they were there then! The cattle that provide milk and meat and lay down their lives for us to this day, and the sheep, who similarly provide us with wool for clothing, and food, still give up their lives. Their own diet, the green grass, is provided by Mother Earth. These animals, requiring so little of us, have always provided abundance for man in Unconditional Love. The Nativity scene includes them and thus their presence represents life and abundance for mankind.

Baby Jesus was placed in a manger (French) meaning “to eat”, literally a place from which the animals would eat or drink.  Mankind has drunk from the deep well that is Jesus, as history foretold. And a star in the heavens announced his arrival on Earth, placing our focus on things above. From above to below, the Universe acted in accord, in unison and one with this fortuitous event, bringing new life to man for eternity. Today man may always partake of the Christ’s mediation of our hearts, his ongoing mission for the Earth and his Eternal Love. 

The shepherds, who played an important role in the story of the birth, were the caretakers who looked to the skies for the markers of their daily routine and to the Christ star.  They are symbolic of the wayshowers and lightworkers, who act when signs and wonders abound and in harmony with the dictates of nature all around them.  Their sheep, of course, represent those that follow the way of Light shown by Jesus the Christ and adhere to his message of Love.   It is curious, is it not, that the sound sheep make, “ba” is a sound we associated with the sound of creation, and a word that is rooted in the Aramaic “abba” meaning father.

Both cattle and sheep are animals that chew the cud, symbolic of ruminating, or meditating, and that take life at a natural, unhurried pace.  Perhaps this is a reminder that the acceleration of our own pace at Christmastime to an unsustainable level, without scheduling meditation time, is not what the Nativity is all about. Through the presence of the animals, the Nativity scene cues us to meditate, does it not? In Philippians 4:8-9 we read:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

I would be amiss here if I did not mention the beloved donkey who carried Mother Mary on the long journey to Jerusalem, an animal treated as a beast of burden and considered of little to no worth today. Also, the three wise men, or magii, traveled great distances on horseback (or on camels) from the “east”. They followed the star, traveling from distant lands to honor the heavenly portend heralding the fulfillment of the scriptures, and to worship Jesus.  Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, a fitting tribute to a king, represented great worth, priesthood and anointing oil respectively. The magii’s arrival and gifts marked the higher attributes of Jesus the Christ.

Our iconic Nativity scene, therefore, transcends time and brings us to the truth that the Universe has always provided us with all that we need for every aspect of being.  In all likelihood, there were more animals present at the birth than humans.  I pray we take our cue to accord them the love and respect they so justly deserve. We are so blessed.

A personal note from Alison:

I would like to suggest to you several organizations that support animals and that offer you tax deductions for year-end contributions.  No gift is too small for an animal’s miracle at Christmas.

Peaceful Valley Donkey Retreat, California, at that saves unwanted and neglected donkeys nationwide; that offers the opportunity to give domestic animals as a gift to support impoverished families around the world; that is working to create better conditions for farm animals; and that is working to help overworked and neglected donkeys and horses in Israel.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Thank you, thank you.

Merry Christmas, Love and Blessings to You, Alison