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home : religion : religion January 19, 2019

1/7/2019 5:40:00 AM
Completing The Task: Nativity Scene Stored Until Next Fall

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches (especially Lutherans and Episcopaleans) emphasize the visit of the Magi when they celebrate the Epiphany. Eastern Orthodox churches focus on Jesus' baptism. Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It was celebrated since the end of the second century, before the Christmas holiday was established.

The word comes from a Greek word for manifestation or appearance. For many Christians, Epiphany refers to the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus.  For some, it represents  the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles and the coming of the Magi (the three kings or wise men) who followed the star to find Him.  It may also represent the manifestation of His divinity  at his baptism by John the Baptist (when God the Father is said to have spoken and said, "this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" or at his first miracle, changing water into wine. But the word "epiphany" has another popular meaning: a sudden flash of understanding or insight.

The volunteers who gathered on the Courtsquare Sunday afternoon weren't celebrating so much as completing the task they began the first Sunday in December.  Lincoln Herald readers will recall that unlike previous years, the Nativity Scene on the Courtsquare was not there this year before the Lincolnton Christmas Parade.  

Many were concerned that the Nativity Scene might have been replaced by the apple that was to be a part of this year's first-ever New Year's Festival celebration.  The stage for the Tree Lighting was placed such that the apple, not yet put on the 30-ft. pole where it was dropped New Year's Eve, was sitting in the spot where the Nativity Scene had been in previous years.

The Lincoln Herald contacted Alan Hoyle, who had been responsible for the placement of the Nativity Scene for more than a decade, and he told us that he hadn't put it there for 2018 because he hadn't had much help and "if the people didn't want it, I wasn't going to bother."  

We ran an article about the manger scene and response on Facebook indicated that there were many who very much wanted to see the Nativity Scene on the square.  Many volunteered to help put it there.

On that first Sunday of last month, a group gathered to help move the scene to the Courtsquare and set it up for the Holiday season.  Some of the parts of the stable had to be replaced, and the task took about two-and-a-half hours, but when it was done, the scene was back in its place for another year.  

Last week, Alan said Sunday (Jan. 6th) appeared to be a day when the weather would be suitable and set 2:30 Sunday afternoon as the time for volunteers to complete the task by removing the scene so it could be stored until next Christmas.

The task on Sunday took only about 30 minutes.

Many had thought that the Nativity Scene was placed by the City or County.  Actually, Hoyle had asked for a permit each year and had placed the scene there, often with only one or two helpers.  

Alan and I have agreed that we will establish a Nativity Scene Fund at a local bank so that those who want to contribute can--so that as parts are needed to be replaced (like the slabs on the stable this year, light fixtures, etc.) that there will be funds for that purpose.  It the Fund grows to permit it, other figures may be added--like animals or shepherds.  

The Lincoln Herald wants to thank those who did the work--both on December 2nd and Sunday (Jan. 6th).  You indeed helped with an 'epiphany,' putting the birth of Jesus at the center of the celebration of Christmas and by means of the Nativity Scene revealing its true meaning.  

By the way, for any who might object to the placement of the Nativity Scene as a violation of the policy of separation of 'church and state'--who would claim it's mixing politics and religion and that religious figures have no place on public property, County Manager Kelly Atkins says that any group that wants to have a display for a seasonal event is welcome to make an application.  If Muslims want a display for Ramadan (May-June 2019), they're welcome to apply.  If some other group wants to have a display, so long as it is in good taste, they're also welcome to apply.  

For us Christians, the Nativity Scene is a focal point of our theology.  We rejoice that it was again this year a part of Lincolnton's Christmas celebration.

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