This is the fourth week of Advent. Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes. This week we light the candle of LOVE
I was thrilled to receive the box! It contained the manger scene from my youth. As kid I always enjoyed putting up the manger scene. Each year I would set the wooden stable on a prominent table and spread a bed of hay at its base. Careful thought went into placement of the plastic sheep, cow and donkey. Mary, Joseph, the wise men and one lowly shepherd would be arranged around a tiny manger. The last item to be placed, and my favorite, was the itty bitty plastic baby Jesus. I never got too old to enjoy setting them up. In our home, our daughter Ashley took on the task of setting up our manger scene each year. Even though she is now 25, if she is in town, she sets it up. I hope someday she is as happy to receive our manger scene into her home as I was to receive this one.
I did not know what was in the box at first, but it was soon apparent that whatever it was, was definitely precious. Someone obviously wanted to be certain the shipped item made its journey intact. I have NEVER seen so many packing peanuts in my life! As I pulled apart the oddly combined boxes, static filled, little tufts of pink Styrofoam floated all over our dining room. Eventually I discovered the another box nestled within and immediately recognized it.
I carefully pulled out the larger inner box holding the wood framed stable. Below this I found a smaller box, which held the various manger scene figurines. It was partially open and the contents had shifted out of their protective nooks. I immediately began taking inventory and inspecting each piece. As I held each piece I felt a warm familiarity.
Two cream colored sheep posed as if in the middle of baying, check.
One donkey with perky ears and tired eyes, check.
One brown disinterested cow, check.
Three wise men of varying ethnicities and clutching gifts to their chests, check.
One balding, barefoot shepherd posed in a kneeling position, check.
Mary and Joseph, both with adoration painted on their faces, check.
Little plastic manger with tufts of hay glued inside, check.
Baby Jesus…..Baby Jesus? Wait, where is baby Jesus? I lost baby Jesus!
My heart thumped rapidly as I realized the tiniest, most important, figurine was lost. I pushed down the urge to panic. It had to be in the box somewhere. It figures, my plastic baby Jesus is itty bitty with light pink skin and tiny white swaddling cloth, the packing peanuts which filled the depths of the box before me just happened to be mostly light pink. Finding baby Jesus was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. I plunged my hand and arm into the box, swirling around trying to feel for my Jesus. I was up to my arm pit in packing peanuts when I felt the little thing under my fingers. I scooped him to the surface and let out a sigh of relief.
This week I have been thinking about losing baby Jesus. It’s not like I am the only one who’s ever lost Jesus. Mary and Joseph lost Him once. Jesus had accompanied his folks to Jerusalem for Passover each year. The year He was twelve, apparently they forgot to be sure He was with the group when they headed home. “…and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. AND HIS PARENTS WERE UNAWARE OF IT…” Luke 2:43
I can only imagine the panic that filled their hearts when they realized they had misplaced Jesus. They returned to Jerusalem and found Him in the temple hanging out with the teachers. When his mother asks Him why he would worry them like that, His response is VERY important. You see, in His response He affirms what angels and prophets proclaimed. In His response we hear the truth of who He is… ”Why is it that you are looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in MY FATHER’S HOUSE?” Luke 2:49 Jesus is the Son of God. This is why we celebrate the birth of Christ each year, not because a child was born, but because Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world. We celebrate this amazing act of LOVE.
“By this the LOVE of God was manifested in us, that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is LOVE, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (cancelation) for our sin.” (1 John 4:9&10)
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father…for His fullness we have all received grace upon grace…grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14-17)