The last of my father-in-law’s possessions was spread across my dining room table ready to be claimed by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as keepsakes and reminders of him. This was his collection of animal figurines and carvings which he collected from around the world and which were very dear to him. Also included was a crèche complete with Mary, Joseph and a manger in which to lay baby Jesus. Every Christmas he would display the crèche with all of his animals surrounding it.
Somewhere along the way Jesus must have gone missing, not unlike the time when Jesus was twelve and Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. On the way home, you may remember, they thought he was in the company they were traveling with and it took three days to find him.
The comparison breaks down quickly, but it does come to mind that sometimes one thinks they have Jesus and they really don’t.
Anyway, one of our sons chose the crèche. The figures have wonderfully expressive faces and are stamped with Italy as their country of origin. Jesus looked a little off to me. He wasn’t made of the same material, but it was something about his eyes that gave him away. We turned him over and there it was. Jesus was made in China. I’m guessing he was purchases in a Dollar Store and added to the scene like an understudy in a play.
This troubled me, but we figured lots of people display manger scenes without Jesus in the manger all through the Christmas season. Then on Christmas morning He miraculously appears. This hatched a plan to look on E-Bay to find a baby Jesus that was fitting to sit with his Italian-made parents.
I wasn’t comfortable throwing made-in-China baby Jesus away. It seemed wrong somehow. I figured we should put him some place where I could remember where he was; so just in case I didn’t find a suitable replacement, the manger would not sit empty on Christmas. I put him in the china closet. You know, China/china – I should remember that.
Then it occurred to me. Bob and I are going to Italy in the spring to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary. I can look for Jesus there. That would be awesome.
So, this year if you come to my house on Christmas, please do not look too closely at Jesus in the manger. We have hope that next year he will look a lot better.
I would encourage you to look for Jesus where he may be found this Christmas. He is there at the mere mention of his name. He is no longer a baby in a manger. He is the Prince of Peace and our Savior. Merry Christmas!
Luke 2:11-12: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”