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  • Writer's pictureNeil Allen

Eggs For Easter and Christmas

The images and symbolism of eggs at Easter has deep cultural. historical and spiritual foundations within the Christian Tradition. Some will think of the egg symbolizing the tomb and others will remember the new life promised by Jesus.

Some Christians still hold sacred traditions of giving up meat and eggs for Lent. In those traditions, such as practiced in the Eastern Churches, elaborate eggs often decorated on a red background to celebrate the story of Jesus overcoming the grave.

Deep traditions of the hiding and searching for eggs representing the discovery of the empty tomb which brought joy to the early Christian community. Even the nature of the egg with its shell, albumen, and yoke, can be understood to symbolize the triune nature of God.

Even the very symbol for Friends of the Creche share the egg shape with the cradle of Jesus at the center

Increasingly, artists turn to the egg for inspiration for displaying the nativity. This egg ornament is from the Margo Dixon Collection. The careful drawing of the Cow, Donkey, Star, and Jesus on a hollowed egg, dangle precariously over the floor, signifying the fragile nature of the "fully God/ fully human" nature of Jesus theologians have struggled to interpret to a skeptical world.

This egg symbol found its way into the ornament created for the Portland, Oregon Convention that had to be canceled due to the Covid outbreak. While we held everything on line - we recognized our own fragile nature as millions lost their lives to the global pandemic of a tiny virus.

The Easter story reminds us that tomb also held the symbol of hope, just as the Christmas story.

The overly romantic sleeping baby in this nativity depiction expresses the very nature of hopeful optimism that sustains some faithful folks through the long and arduous nature of Lent to the resurrection at Easter. Shapped in a cavelike background - it's not a stretch to imagine the egg symbol in his set.

No, this nacieinto from Peru is not an egg, but like the egg, the shell is open to reveal the celebration of the birth of Jesus, who appears wrapped (swaddled) as if in death

Adorned in the contrasting light and darkness in this egg nativity ornament, the star in the Eastern sky (represented in the color of the advent parments of many church pulpits) the Holy Family finds peace. Mary offers her hands in service and praise to the child who would find himself laid back in a tomb awaiting God's delivery.

One of the nativities I passed up at an assembly keeps calling me. The obvious egg shape of this "Fair-Trade" nativity reminds me of those I found in the markets of Ecuador on my last visit. The triune stars are not cut completely through the "shell" and thus appear dark, while the triune halos remind me of the yoke (the new life) symbolized within and upon this really cool nativity

In the J.R.R. Tolkien story about a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins puts Gollum (his soon to be rival) to the test with a simple riddle. "In a box without a key or a lid inside golden treasure is hid." Gollum, lacking both compassion or inner spiritual wisdom, and consumed with the power of pure evil, is unable to tell Bilbo the answer to the simple riddle. The answer offered by the innocent Hobit is "an egg!" Frustrated he sets out from his island seclusion in the depths of the darkest dungeon to kill Bilbo. Bilbo's innocence and pure heart convince the mustard seed of goodness remaining in Gollum's cold and harden heart to show him the way out.

Many scholars point to the obvious spiritual connections with Tolkien's fantasy story as revealing his religious upbringing rooted deep within the traditions of the cycle between Christmas and Easter.

Inside this Ostrich egg the "golden treasure" has been removed and replaced with a light. Ruth McCool of Muncie, Indiana carved it for me in 2004, replacing the 2001 version she carved for me - which fell and broke into dozens of pieces. For the past 19 years it has sat on my desk reminding me of my passion to share the nativity story with others. It remains my reminder even on this Easter Eve -that the "Golden Treasure" is only found in life reborn again and again.

Happy Easter Friends of the Creche. May all your eggs open for you the full circle story of the baby born in Bethlehem resurrected on Easter again and again.

Neil Allen - Webmaster Friends of the Creche

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