Monday, December 13
Where Is Jesus?
Our first Christmas as new parents we began assembling a nativity set that would be safe for little hands to handle. We searched carefully to find a baby Jesus that was not attached to the manger bed but could be removed and carried. Finances were extremely tight then so the first year we purchased only members of the holy family and added additional figures each year until we finally had a complete set for our children to explore.
When our daughter was a toddler she loved to carry baby Jesus around with her - showing him her books and toys, covering him with a blanket, making him a part of her daily routine. After a particularly tiring day we were searching for him at bedtime and I said to her, "Alisa, quit taking Jesus with you everywhere and leave him in the manger where he belongs." Immediately I was horrified at the words that had come out of my mouth! Wasn't this contrary to what we were trying to teach her? What did this indicate about my own relationship to God? How was I "leaving him where he belongs" in other areas of my life?
After apologizing and trying to correct this bungled message with her, I spent time reflecting on ways we often try to keep our relationship with God "safely tucked away" rather than allowing him to be a part of every area of our lives. How many times had I failed to speak up for an unpopular cause or group because it might be misunderstood or might lead to a deeper involvement? How many times had I charged into a situation creating a real mess instead of taking time first to pray and ask God for direction which probably would have produced a better outcome? Doesn't "seeking God first..." mean allowing him to be with me everywhere?
A small child had taught me a big lesson! If Jesus is truly Lord of my life, I must allow him to be a part of all I do, go everywhere I go, and, in fact, surprise me with his presence in ways and places I could not imagine.
When we packed away Christmas items that year, baby Jesus could not be found. He was discovered several months later between the crib mattress and springs where a little toddler hand had dropped him after falling asleep. Now, almost forty years later, our family still treasures this same nativity set and baby Jesus has been loved and transported by our three children and our three "grandgirls" into all sorts of surroundings. He always reappears and is safely put back into his manger bed.
Each year as I carefully put away Christmas decorations, I stop to ponder the surprising places we have found Jesus in our lives during the previous year. May he always be a welcome presence wherever we go!
- Rebecca Monfalcone
God, whenever we think of you, we won't be afraid. Thank you for your love and care. Amen.
- John Foxx Willhite