It’s true Baby Jesus is missing. Just for starters, let me say I’m talking about the baby Jesus from our front yard nativity. But it’s true of the real Jesus, too. More about that later.
I had wanted one of these molded plastic light-up sets for a long time. However, the house where we lived at the time had a yard that wasn’t conducive to displaying such a set. The front yard sloped terribly and had a large tree that would hide the nativity. Not only that, we didn’t have space to store such a set. Fact of the matter, we didn’t have space to store ourselves.
So, the first Christmas in our new house we bought the set. We were so proud of our holy family the first year. We found the right spot to display them. We purchased some outdoor extension cords and plugged them in. Our own Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were beautiful.
Putting Jesus away
When the Christmas season ended we found the perfect place to store them in the basement so they would be safe from skateboards and bicycles and cars that graced our garage at the time.
Through the years we have hauled them out of the basement the day after Thanksgiving. About seven years ago someone decided that the nativity personalities could live up on top of a shelf in the garage.
Last year, Mary and Joseph stayed well up into January. I think I may be the one who finally hauled them into the garage and haphazardly threw them together in a corner. It was probably me because due to a shoulder injury, I wouldn’t have been able to lift them up on the shelf.
This year, although we put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, there didn’t seem to be time to drag the holy family out to the yard. Last week, I figured I’d do the job myself. How hard could it be?
I went to the spot where I’d seen Mary and Joseph for the last year of pulling the car in and out of the garage. I lifted the couple from out behind the trash cans, miscellaneous pieces of lumber and large speaker bells. This was no easy task due to the large pieces of concrete blocks they have in them to keep them upright during brisk Missouri winter breezes.
Where is Jesus?
Wait, though, someone was missing. Like a couple without their children during a holiday dinner, they were alone. The most important part of the trio was not with them. Maybe he was in the temple talking to the elders? Wait, different story.
I hunted through every spot in the garage and the little baby in the manager was not there. So I asked. No one in the family had seen him.
Surely he is here somewhere, I thought. I searched but, I couldn’t find him where I had left him. He couldn’t just up and walk away. He’s plastic for crying out loud. The ideal that a plastic baby Jesus could move himself was well, just creepy.
The more logical explanation, though, seemed somewhere in the last year, he had been moved or things piled on top of him to the point that he was not visible. No one remembered actually doing anything with Jesus for an entire year. He was for all intents and purposes absent from our lives.
Why this matters
I am struck by the parable inherent in all of this. The person who should be the most valuable in my life is many times buried under of tons of bits and pieces that are necessarily unnecessary. Yet, I have made them more important than Jesus is in my life. I put everything ahead of Jesus and the place He should hold in my life.
In the midst of tragedies and senseless acts such as the taking of innocent lives, this season let’s remember the One who came into the world with the goal of dying. What He did really makes no sense. What God the Father did by allowing His son’s death makes even less sense.
However, I am glad He paid the price for me and for you so that when our day on earth is done we will spend eternity in paradise. Still, in makes no sense. What makes even less sense is to bury Him among the junk of this life and to continue to do it day in and day out.
I know you know what I’m talking about. We all do it.
The most important things are mailing Christmas greetings, figuring out who to buy presents for, finding exactly the right gifts, decorating the tree, baking Christmas cookies, making the gingerbread house, planning Christmas dinner, buying the ingredients for Christmas dinner, making Christmas dinner, putting up the lights, displaying the nativity set. To say we are stressed is an understatement.
In all of this, where is our focus? Where is Jesus?
By the way, we did find our plastic baby Jesus. The interesting thing is, he was right where I had put him last year. He was just buried under so many cardboard boxes and miscellaneous items that even though I moved stuff around, I couldn’t find him.
On so many occasions, we don’t feel like Jesus is near. Yet, in reality, He’s right where we left Him. We’ve just not thought to talk to Him or look for Him or even acknowledge Him.
This Christmas I want to be sure I have not only found Jesus, I’ve made Him the center of my attention and affection.
Our plastic nativity, complete with baby Jesus, is shining in our front yard right now.
I hope the real Jesus is shining in your heart and life, as well.