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The Living Nativity

Preparing for Christmas with Saint Francis

by Larry J. Peacock

Prepare your heart for Christmas through nativity scenes and Advent traditions.

Who came up with the idea of using nativity scenes to celebrate Christmas? Many might be surprised to learn that Francis of Assisi, the well-known thirteenth-century saint, is credited with creating the first nativity scene. The Living Nativity introduces readers to Saint Francis and his joyous reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger and animals.

The Living Nativity explores how nativity sets, Advent wreaths, candles, carols, Christmas cards, and other traditions help prepare our hearts for the God “who bends low to enter our world and our lives.” Prayer poems for each day of the season lead readers to deepen their spiritual journey, and the book provides a guided pattern for individuals and small groups to share reflections and experience activities that open their hearts to the Christ child.

The Living Nativity provides a prayer, meditation, and reflection questions for each day of Advent. The Leader’s Guide includes suggestions for worship, discussion questions focused on the readings, and guidance for a mini-retreat on a theme of the week.

What is #MyLivingNativity?

Check out these online courses from The Upper Room:


The Living Nativity Leader’s Guide eCourse

This free tool is designed for group leaders who will lead weekly gatherings of this Advent offering. You may find it helpful to register if you are leading a The Living Nativity Book Club, Sunday School Group, small group, or virtual gathering.



The Living Nativity Private Classroom

The Living Nativity Private Classroom allows churches and groups to engage in the eCourse with a private and branded platform and receive discounted registration rates. Learn more about the private classroom option by emailing us today at urelearning@upperroom.org with “The Living Nativity Private Classroom” in the subject line.



The Living Nativity Public eCourse

The Public eCourse will be available starting October 1st as an interactive way to engage with the book and take part in group discussions and activities. Register early to review course contents as you plan for your study. Register today for the public eCourse individual user rate of $19.


Interact with Advent like never before with The Upper Room Advent Calendar.

This calendar features interactive tools for each day of Advent and includes meditations, family activities, prayers, and more.
Nourish your spirit this season and spend time daily in God’s presence.

About the Author

Larry Peacock is director of the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Milwaukie, Oregon. A retired United Methodist pastor, Peacock is a trained spiritual director and retreat leader.

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