I really like crèches at Christmas. The word crèche, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, comes from a high German word meaning manger or crib.
At Christmas, it stands for a representation of the nativity scene, which includes Jesus in the manger being looked at by Mary and Joseph, An angel is usually overhead, looking down on the scene. On one side will be a few shepherds, and on the other, a few wise men. Interspersed will be some sheep, cattle, and camels. And in some more recent additions, there may be a little drummer boy.
The crèche creates the image I have in my mind of what Christmas is all about. It brings together all of the elements that we think of when we think of the Christmas story, plus a few extra-biblical additions, like the drummer boy.
I know some biblical purists who would be made livid by the presence of the drummer boy, and probably also would be unhappy with the representation that both the shepherds and the wise men were there at the same time. Being reasonably well educated, I am aware that those two groups were unlikely to be there at the same time, and I am willing to concede the exact date of the birth, December or otherwise, is more conjecture than fact. And there was probably not an angel sitting on top of the stable.
But, to me, none of that matters because sometimes, our faith transcends facts, and the crèche is an object of religious affection presenting to us the theology of Christmas in a dramatic way.
The son of God has been born to two simple people, Mary and Joseph, who love him. God has sent his angels to proclaim and celebrate the birth. The simple shepherds and the wisest men of the time have all come to see him and celebrate the fulfillment of prophecy. Even the animals bear witness to the redemption. It’s all there, and I love it.
And if, by chance, a little drummer boy happens to wander into the scene, well, so be it. The gift of God in Jesus Christ is welcoming to all who come in true faith. The crèche is not a history lesson, but rather an object of faith to remind us of the gift we have received in Jesus Christ.