The Angels & Crib Festival, held in Chagford church, was a wonderful celebration to lead us into the Advent and Christmas season.
Although the 72 cribs (nativity scenes) all told the same story, each of them illustrated this in a unique way. From the smallest (about the size of a walnut) upwards, the cribs are lovingly treasured by their owners (some for decades) and come from all around the world including Zimbabwe, Madeira, Poland, the Holy Land and Mexico and were made from a wide variety of materials such as wool, ebony, clay and metal.
St. Francis of Assisi is generally credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223 at Greccio, central Italy, in an attempt (even then) to place the emphasis of Christmas upon the worship of Christ rather than secular materialism and gift giving.
At a time when there is much artificial ‘joy’ in the High Street - but only if you can afford it - many people took a new look at the old, old story.
The whole ‘community of Creation’ is represented in a crib - something in which Francis of Assisi took great delight and there, at the heart of it all, is depicted the poverty and the vulnerability of Jesus, ‘the babe of Bethlehem’ (Francis had a way with words).
There was also a dazzling display of angels in the church, at least 461! Some of these are already part of the building’s fabric, but many were made especially for the Festival.
No one knows exactly what an angel looks like - and who is to say that they don’t look like some of the angels depicted in Chagford Church?
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’. Luke 2.13-14