Dec. 1, 2010
The Christmas season seems to bring out the very best in the arts. Think of the glorious music of Handel’s “Messiah,” or the Madonnas of Raphael. Artists around the world respond in their own unique ways to the ageless story of a baby born in a manger.
To see how modern artists are still reponding to this story visit the Festival of Nativities at Centenary United Methodist Church at 4th and Elm in North Lawrence, KS. The church is sharing its 16th annual Festival of Nativities on each Saturday and Sunday in December from noon to 4 p.m. This display of more than 350 nativity sets of all sizes features the creations of artists from all over the world showing what they think that scene in the manger would have looked like if it had happened in their country. Two of the set are mine, one depicting a Navajo manger scene and the other a small set of the Holy Family, with Jospeh holding the baby that I bought in Quebec last summer. The newest addition to the festival is a set of about 50 French villagers, each about nine inches tall, clustered around the manger.
You’ll see nativity sets, including one of the larger ones, in the entrance when you first come in. But most are in a large upper room creatively displayed and lit. They spill out into a hallway leading to a shop where you can purchase small inexpensive gifts, decorations and homemade goodies for the holidays. Admission is free but donations are accepted. If you come once, you’ll want to come back next year. It can be one of the highlights of your holiday.