I stood in front of the nativity scene and realized there was nothing realistic at all about the scene. The figures had alabaster white complexions. Mary and Jesus had blond hair and blue eyes! Everyone has a beatific smile as if they haven’t a care in the world. Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus are all in royal blue robes which are what nobility would wear. I guess it’s called a nativity scene because nativity reality would be too much for people to bear.
A young girl, pregnant by another than the one she is engaged to. Traveling 70 miles to register in their ancestral towns for a census required by the occupying Romans at the end of her pregnancy. Then, having to give birth without her mother or even family women there to help. Birth is messy by itself, but a first birth, not at home or even in a decent dwelling? Not a beatific moment.
Joseph has signed on to stick with Mary, but only because he too had a visitor. He must have been confused and angry finding himself now stuck in these circumstance, but to have to help with the birth definitely not knowing what to do? Not how he expected to start his married life.
Lives of real people are not picturesque or sanitized. They aren’t plays or pictures. They are the daily, hourly, moments of real-ness … of hope and fear, beauty and filth, belonging and alienated. The reality of the nativity is that God chose to enter into our experience – with all that comes with it. God never leaves us alone or abandoned, even as we wait.
Real people in real circumstances with a real God. That’s nativity reality.