A Christmas nativity is probably one of the most recognisable symbols of the Christmas season. The word nativity is taken from the Latin nativus, which means "arisen by birth." Nativities are art, models, carvings, or live demonstrations depicting the night of Jesus' birth. These scenes generally contain the same elements: the Christ child in a manger; His mother, Mary; His earthly father, Joseph; shepherds; angels; various barn animals; and sometimes three wise men.
Saint Francis of Assisi created the very first nativity scene in 1223 in an effort to promote the true meaning of Christmas and worship of Jesus Christ. His idea caught on, and soon a new Christmas tradition was born. Today, it's almost impossible for one to go through the Christmas season without seeing a nativity scene in front of a church, in a Christmas play, decorating someone's garden, or placed in model form on a fireplace mantel.
Here at St Peter's, the most important thing about a nativity is its message to the world: Because our sin requires a perfect sacrifice before a holy and just God, our Heavenly Father sent His own Son to earth as a man so that He could become that sacrifice (John 3:16). The child who was born to Mary and laid in a manger would one day grow up to die on a cross and rise again so each and every person who believes in Him may receive forgiveness for sin and eternity in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4).