What Others Are Saying:

Steve Case, through his emersion into the story, reminds us that the presence of the divine surrounds us continually and he teaches us how to tap into that presence.

 - Mary Beth Howe, Author:A Baptist Among Jews

Sunday
Dec132015

The Rev Quick Dunnley's Completely Untrue Christmas Tales #2

The Smallest Crèche 

Probably the least known and most beautiful depictions of the traditional nativity scene, was in a small piece of glass about 2 inches long and one inch wide. 

On the day before the first Sunday of Advent In 1787 in London a Chemist (as pharmacists were called then) was apparently bored enough at his job to begin catching insects at random and smashing them with his pestle and then examining them under the microscope. On this day, to his surprise, a common housefly revealed a startling site. The insect’s remains created an absolutely perfect depiction of the nativity. Shocked and amazed Dr. Barker called his assistant to look. His assistant concurred and the men determined that they could be in the presence of an authentic miracle. They summoned a local priest Fr. John Havensforth of West End. The priest who had never used a microscope attempted for an hour before finally be able to see what the chemists saw. Fr. Havensforth was more than surprised. 

 

The good priest crossed himself and immediately prayed a prayer of forgiveness and then bestowed a blessing on the slide, our instrument, our business and both Dr. Barker and myself. I had never been spontaneously blessed before. It was an extraordinary feeling.

-Nigel Evans -Asst to Dr. Baker in a letter to his mother. 

 

The priest quickly summoned a bishop unfortunately by this time Dr. Barker's assistant had also summoned the press. Word spread quickly throughout London and by the time the bishop arrived a sizeable crowd had also. 

The Bishop, who had some experience with microscopes peered into the glass and immediately declared the site a non-miracle. When questioned about his decision the bishop replied that the alleged "nativity" had four wise men. 

 Stunned by this, both Dr. Barker and his assistant looked again. Sure enough, there to the left of Jesus and his mother were not three bur four kings in full array. Dr. Barker suggested that the slide was still too perfect to be coincidence and perhaps God was trying to tell the world something. The bishop left without another word. Fr. Havensforth explained to Dr. Baker in an official letter... 

 "Any miracle depicting an inaccurate display of the holy nativity was not a miracle. Miracles surrounding the images of the Christ Child and his Mother would be more likely to happen within the walls of the church and not in the splayed remains of a common household insect."

 Dr. Barker was soon ruined when it was learned that he had been using pharmaceutical instruments to kill bugs. His assistant "acquired" the slide and sold it to the original house of Ripley's Believe it Or Not. (Then known simply as Mr. Ripley’s Collection). The slide remained in the museum until 1805 when it was dropped and broken by a careless custodian.

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