'Nativity' comes from the Latin natalis, which pertains to birth, particularly that of Jesus.
'Cross' comes from the Latin crux, which pertains to death by crucifixion, particularly that of Jesus.
And the death of Jesus comes from the sin of mankind, which pertains to rebirth, only through Jesus.
This Nativity, Natal1 or Epiphany2 Cross is a form of Glory Cross. It is voided in a botonée form, similar to the cross atop the spire of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, about five miles south of Jerusalem.
The Nativity Cross is adorned with a star, which mimics the silver Nativity Star that can be seen in a limestone grotto beneath the Church of the Nativity. This Nativity Star is believed to mark the very spot where Mary gave birth to Jesus. The star has 14 rays, which represent the 14 generations from Abraham to David, the 14 generations from David to the exile of Babylon and the 14 generations from the exile of Babylon to Jesus' birth.
The cross symbolizes his Crucifixion, so in this one symbol, we have the ancestry, birth and death of Jesus.
Understandably, pilgrims have been flocking to the Church and the Cave of the Nativity in their millions over the years, and to facilitate access, a passageway was enlarged in 1964. Fortunately, enlarging this little passage did not violate the sanctity of the place.
The commercial version
This cross is used to 'Christianize' a pagan Christmas tree and various military insignia.
The photo on the right was pointed out to us by Sean Wright, who had seen it in a TV commercial way back in 1995, when thousands of these crosses were being promoted.
The commercial explained that the stone in the centre of the cross is from "the site recognised as the place of Christ's birth" - carefully avoiding claiming that it was on the very spot where Jesus was born. But pretty close by anyway.
The rubble from the excavations was shipped to a warehouse in the Pacoima district of Los Angeles, California, and then used in the making of these crosses.3
Interestingly, in the WOWOW TV commercial the salesman, the late Ricardo Montalban, said this cross is "unique" and "one-of-a-kind", yet the company had 200,000 for sale, at up to $395 each. Colour me dubious, but this puts the operation on the same scale as the Nazareth Cross and leads to question: If indeed these stones are from the very place where Jesus was born, is it desecration to insert them into 200,000 metal trinkets?
Well, if people believe the stones are from the place where Jesus was born, and if that gives them closer communion with God, then those stones have served a good purpose.
Or if people are skeptical about the authenticity of the stones, then at least a stone chipping in a cross is a poignant reminder of the humble setting of Jesus' birth.
The charitable version
The star of Bethlehem Cross is also seen in the logo of World Vision.
The arc on the logo represents the horizon and the star is seen beyond that horizon and means "the future". Orange is a bright colour and therefore the message of this logo points to hope for a bright future for the charity's beneficiaries. Children are the world's future and World Vision (www.worldvision.org/) supports projects to make their future bright.
Raising funds to supply basic intellectual and physical nourishment, by means of education and food, may be slightly easier than the problem faced by equally worthy but less attractive causes, such as WaterAid (www.wateraid.org/uk/), who help to build the sanitation requirements for those children. The village may desperately need money to engineer an effective and safe water treatment facility, but sponsoring an individual child and sending him or her crayons has more appeal.
World Vision strives to cope with such dilemmas, to bring hope to all. The charity's policy is not proselytize, which in no way disobeys Christ's instruction recorded in Mark 16:15. The charity's policy is to love as Jesus loved.
This webpage understandably gets more page hits around Christmas time, the time of year when people are considering which charity to support. We encourage you to check the World Vision website www.worldvision.org/ and make your wise choice.