Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Away in a

My sister, her husband and their son were on Lee's campus last Sunday to take photos for their annual Christmas card that they send to family and friends.

They had exhausted the two traditional holiday backdrops (the abnormally large trees in the student union and in front of the Humanities Center) when my brother-in-law asked me a question.

"Is there a nativity scene on campus?"

Why, I never thought of that before. After all, Lee is a Christian college campus; there ought to be one somewhere.

In seconds, however, I had my answer. No, there wasn't a nativity scene.

In the days to come the closest thing to a nativity I could find at all on campus was a single sign planted in the ground before the entrance to the dining hall. "Rejoice," it stated, followed by a reminder why.

I believe we've come to live in an age where simple symbols have replaced complicated decorations and being cool is more important than delivering a message, no matter how hopeful and beautiful that message is.

Trees and wreaths are clean, clear, easy indicators of the season. Manger scenes are complicated and cluttered, making a bold pronouncement. In fact, a manger scene carries labels with it. What kind of businesses, people or companies put up manger scenes?

In fact, the only manger scene I've seen in Cleveland this Christmas season is below, and I spot it daily on my walk to Lee's campus. It's meek, it's humble, it's real.

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