A few weeks ago I shared my reflections on the missing babies from our Nativity scenes. You all remember that I often take the Baby Jesus from the manger and hide him until Christmas Day in order to help connect with the expectant waiting we should have during Advent.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to share the meaning behind this special tradition with everyone who passed by our house and viewed our life-sized Nativity, I decided to put Jesus in his manger bed early. I thought about putting a sign up explaining why he wasnât present but didn’t think it would work and most folks would think that the baby was just missing or worse stolen. After all, significant traditions without interpretation really are not meaningful for those who haven’t previously experienced them.
I truly enjoy the holiday decorations we put up in our house and yard. Itâ’s fun to see folks slow or even stop to see what we have. In fact the other day we came home to a family that had pulled over and their children were dancing to our musical Christmas trees. Once we realized they were enjoying our display and not attempting to steal anything it was exciting to think that for a brief moment we were able to share a special moment of joy with them. I have to admit that the first thought I had as I shined my high beams on them was negative.
After that night I realized how easy it can be to become cynical and âgrinchy.â There is so much during this season that taxes us and our weak nature is easily swayed by the negativity. This leads us to part two of the question, â
Where’s the Baby? Monday, I discovered that overnight the Baby Jesus was stolen from the life sized Nativity which is the most prominent feature of our holiday lights. I was filled with disappointment and anger at this development. I even wondered why I didn’t hear the thunder and see the lightning of the person being struck down in the act. As the day progressed, anger and disappointment gave way to problem solving and figuring out where would I get another baby? Colin, upon hearing of the kidnapping, asked if I called the police, and Sheila was ready to bring frontier justice upon the perpetrator. I began to realize that I needed to reframe my perspective. This is a season that is all about forgiveness, and the feelings I was experiencing were only having a negative effect on me and my attitude.
I never thought that a rubber baby would be a cause for Spiritual awakening, but it was. Here is an opportunity for me to practice the very nature of God’s love in my life. Letting go of anger and finding a way to forgive the unknown offender. This is truly a hard spiritual practice. It goes against our sense of justice. We need a pound of flesh or at least the baby back. To forgive without reparation is what God is doing in Christ. God gives a gift of grace-filled love in the Christ child. While they may have stolen the baby from the manger, they haven’t stolen Christ from my life. Perhaps I have found a new answer to the question of, Where’s the Baby? The Christ child is in my heart and actions as I seek to follow the way.
May this season of Advent and Christmas be filled with moments of personal forgiveness in your life. Moments where the gift that you receive in Christ is shared with the world around you. Take time to reconcile and forgive. Let go of those things that estrange you from others and take hold of the very Spirit of the Christ child which is love and forgiveness.