Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bethlehem on the Mantel

I am joining the Holiday-themed Bloggers Block Party hosted by Heather and Vanessa At the Picket Fence. December 6 focuses on Mantels and is hosted by Kristin at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.
For sometime I’d been admiring displays of lighted houses in Christmas villages seen in stores in the mall. For Christmas 2010 I gathered a few pieces and accesssories to set up a display in my study. It was set on a small table and on a nearby bookshelf.

This year I decided to set them up in the living room as part of a display around the fireplace.
On the mantel is the Department 56 lighted porcelain Little Town of Bethlehem. The set has 12 pieces and I arranged them simply with a spray of ivy behind.
A lighted garland had 6 fabric mache Renaisssance style angels in white and blue gowns alternating.

Below this, on the hearth I have large books that serve as a base. I covered with them with a lace runner and then laid cotton snow on top. The lighted houses are set around with little figures, snowmen and trees.

So the fireplace mantel displays has the Bethlehem of long ago while the hearth has a town scene in our world. (See the devotional that follows for more on Bethlehem)

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. -Luke 2:4

Bethlehem was like any other town in the hills of Judea. Yet, it was the birthplace of the greatest king of Israel, David, and one thousand years later, the Messiah.

How does such honor come to the ordinary? Were the people of this town particularly worthy? Was there some great strategic advantage to where it lay? Were the people of Bethlehem politically savvy, having a long history of producing great leaders? Not at all. The little town of Bethlehem was in the shadow of great Jerusalem just six miles to the north. Even the meaning of Bethlehem, "house of bread," is unremarkable.

But hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Micah predicted the destiny of an unremarkable, small place: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times" (Micah 5:2).

The townspeople of Bethlehem were surely proud to be the "Town of David" and the home of King David's famous grandmother, Ruth. Proud also, to be the location of the tomb of Rachel, Jacob's beloved wife. Yet, they must have wondered what Micah's prophesy really meant. When would another prophet like Samuel come to town and anoint a new king, just as he had done with the boy David?

But it didn't happen that way. On an ordinary day, while men plied their trades and women baked bread and children played in the streets, a traveling couple from Nazareth arrived looking for a room. They received no special treatment. No one offered them a room. Ordinary people were having an ordinary response to an ordinary looking couple.

Honor comes to the ordinary because of God's choice, whether it is God's choice to use a town, or a nation, or even a single man or woman, boy or girl. So if this is shaping up to be an ordinary day for you-be prepared. That's the stage on which the acts of God are played.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God, it so easy for us to assume that nothing exciting will happen with the ordinary. Help us this Christmas to see the amazing things you do when you choose to use the ordinary.

--- by Mel Lawrenz via BibleGateway.com

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bethlehem Advent Calendar

Here we are at December 1 - the first day of Advent, when we begin the tradition of opening one door (etc.) per day on our Advent calendars through December 24.
The Advent calendar I’m using this year is a stand-up scene of the town of Bethlehem.

When I opened it, the #1 window revealed a tiny picture and the text:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
Isaiah 9:2

This text points to the blessing brought by the new Babe, the long-awaited Messiah. He came to bring light to all peoples.

During this Advent season,
may the consciousness of the light He brings,
illuminate our hearts with joy and gladness.

I am linking this post to

12 Days of Christmas Traditions – Advent,

hosted by Natasha
at Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive 365.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nativity Wreath

Decorating for the Christmas holidays is just getting underway at Oak Rise Cottage. On a door in the hall I hung a green wreath with nativity ornaments.

The ornaments come from Cedar View Christian Gifts a family business specializing in hand finished laser-cut wood ornaments. They are made in Arkansas, U.S.A. They are available at their web site, on Etsy and on Ebay. Each ornament is made of 1/4" premium birch with a golden oak finish and gloss lacquer. I’ve used gilt ribbon gold blown glass balls gathered in groups of three. The gold tones pick up the color of the lacquer.

In the center of the wreath just under a gilt ribbon bow is one of their three-dimensional ornaments with the Holy Family, titled Manger:

"And this shall be a sign unto you;
Ye shall find the babe wrapped
in swaddling clothes
lying in a manger."
Luke 2:12 KJV

At the sides and lower portion of the wreath are a set of three ornaments designed to look like lanterns with silhouetted figures. These three measure 6" high x 2 ¾" wide.

On the left - Nativity Shepherd

"For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior
which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11 KJV

On the right - Nativity Manger

At bottom - Nativity Wisemen

"When they heard the king, they departed;
and lo, the star, which they saw in the east,
went before them, till it came and stood over
where the young child was."
Matt. 2:9 KJV

I am linking this post to the following.

Please visit the hostess and check out the participating blogs:

Mosaic Monday hosted by Mary at Little Red House

Monday, October 10, 2011

Orrefors Nativity Themed Christmas Plates

Several posts have been devoted to collectors plates with a nativity theme. From Scandinavia, we’ve seen blue and white plates from Denmark by two manufacturers.

From Royal Copenhagen comes this 7 1/4" diameter plate dated Christmas 1972 on front. It depicts Three Wise Men on Camels with palm trees in foreground.

Here is another plate from Denmark. It depicts the "Star of Bethlehem." It is made by Bing & Grondahl and is dated 1922. It is 7" in diameter and depicts the town of Bethlehem with the star above and inscription below: "Julen Aften 1922."

And from Norway by the Porsgrunds Porselænsfabrik,
The Three Wise Men 1969

An Angel and Two Shepherds 1972

Among recent acquisitions are plates from Sweden. These, however, are not blue and white porcelain, but clear crystal. They are annual Christmas plates from the Swedish manufacturer Orrefors.
Here is the original box for the first edition offering in 1973:

View inside the box shows the plate:

The theme of the plate is the visit of the Three Wise Men. They are seen with the Baby Jesus who lies in His manger cradle at the foreground left.

The 1974 plate focuses on the Shepherds receiving the Angels message. An angel hovers above, while several sheep are gathered round about the shepherds:

The 1970’s was a prime time for nativity Christmas plates and these are just a few examples. Search this blog under "collector plates" for more examples from various countries.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blessings Plaque

With today being the second of October I know I must post to Carola Nativty Gallery blog. Furthermore, I must make good on all the drafted posts I’ve made with various topics to share with the followers of this bog.

Today’s item is one I planned to share back in March for Saint Patrick’s Day! It is a lovely ceramic piece from Ireland. It is a deep green and was made at the Callura Pottery in Country Clare.

The manufacturers marks are on the back, to the left and to the right bottom:
Blind-stamped Made in Ireland

Blind-stamped with bird logo and Callura Pottery

At 4 ½ inches high x 6 ½ inches at the base, it is a plaque for hanging on the wall or placing on the table top using the wire easel.

The arch shape is bordered all around with decorative three-leaf markings.

The interior of the arch contains a depiction of Mary, the Baby Jesus in the Manger, Joseph and a star above.

I understand that the inscription across the base, Beannachtai, is Gaelic for Blessings. Quite appropriate for the subject matter of this lovely piece. God blessed us all in the gift of His Son!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gorham Crystal Nativity

Sadly, I have not continued to post during the holiday season as I had intended. The end of November found me preparing to host family for Thanksgiving and packing nativities for a display requested by the Italian American Cultural Center in Worcester, Mass.

In this post I will share the nativity set that serves as this year’s centerpiece in the dining room.
It is by Gorham and was made in Germany.

The clear lead crystal is embellished with 24kt gold-plated metalwork.
This set very difficult to photograph, so I made mosaics with photos I found online to give clearer views of the design detail.

The pieces I have in this set include:
Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus
Reclining Ox
Shepherd With Sheep
Angel with Dove
Angel with Gilded Wings
Angel with Trumpet
Angel ornament – 2 7/8”L
Three Wise Men – Gaspar, Baltazar, Melchoir
Inkeeper With Lamp (made in Czech Rep.)
Ram (made in Czech Rep.) The two pieces made in Czech Republic are marked "Shiny Gold™ Full Lead Crystal."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mosaic Monday

So much has happened in 2010 that I have not posted here for my nativity blog since March. In April, you may have heard I did suffer a small stroke and so much has happened since then. But I plan to post more regularly now and to have another giveaway, which I will annouonce soon.
Right about now I must get organized to send out my Christmas greeting cards to family and friends.

Sadly, last evening I attended a memorial service for a dear friend and former co-worker who passed away on Thursday morning. So I won’t be sending a card to her or receiving one from her. However, I am still blessed with friends, neighbors and family that I will be happy to send Christmas greetings.

Each year I save the greeting cards I receive. Many that I receive have a nativity theme since everyone knows about my creche interests. I have framed some of these beautiful cards. Here are some such cards arranged into a mosaic:

During the past year I have found many interesting vintage tree ornaments. Here is a set of celluloid figures, each set in a cathedral frame or gothic arch. The set was made in Italy and features the Family, Three Wise Men and Two Musicians. The frames with the Magi feature a cross above each head.

Here is my try at using these vintage ornaments in a mosaic. (I'm sorrry that the images are not as sharp as they could be):

Please visit Mary at Little Red House for more creative photo collages.