Away in a Manger

The enduring appeal of the Christmas crèche

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Published in United Church Observer in December 2014

For 30 years, Rev. Brian Kiely didn't have a crèche in his home. As a boy growing up in a Catholic household in Montreal, he loved unpacking his family's nativity scene from its nest of tissue paper and arranging it in the fireplace hearth.

But as he grew older and left the church - eventually becoming a minister at the Unitarian Church of Edmonton - he put away what he considered childish things.

But then, when he was 48, he had his first child, Lily, now 11, followed by Elora, now 9. Both were born at home, wrapped in towels warmed from the oven.

"They were handed to me, and I had the first hour with each of my daughters and held them in my arms," he says. Soon after, Kiely bought a crèche from a church supply store.

"Where the story of the nativity has power for me is as a father who was there when his children were born. Each night a child is born is a holy night; there is so much potential in every birth."

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