For most Decembers a nativity display, or crèche as it is sometimes called, is set up on the Lord’s Supper Table, under a Christmas tree or out in the church foyer. It is a beautiful ceramic with each piece all gleaming white. It was made by Gertrude Harmon and given to the church for the Christmas season of 1973. It is stored, to this day, in its original box with all of the pieces individually wrapped and nestled in a shredded newspaper from the time. All of the individual parts have survived well, until last year.
Last year, as we carefully unwrapped the camels, sheep, donkey and cow; the shepherds, wise men and angels; Mary, Joseph, the stable and the manger—the baby Jesus had disappeared. We searched in all of the old shredded news and foam wrappings multiple times. A search party looked in the various nooks and crannies of the stored Christmas stuff. Jesus was missing. Had he been lost in the aftermath of Christmas? Was he someone’s souvenir or had he been thrown out with the trash?
We pressed ahead with an empty manger, but some of us knew Christmas Day was coming, and someone just might notice. The grandmother of one of our members had made a similar set, so they lent us their mangered Jesus for the Christmas Eve service. After Christmas we were given a duplicate manger, but this one has a molded baby already in the hay. It was carefully wrapped and put away. When we set up the scene this year, we unwrapped the old empty manger but the new manger with Jesus was missing again. He was found a few days later in a “safe place” where no one remembered putting him.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Don’t lose Jesus in Christmas. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.