Updated: Dec 19, 2019
He's been missing for twenty-two years now. We only had him for a couple years before he was gone. We looked everywhere for him when we first discovered he was missing. He wasn't where he was supposed to be one evening so we launched a house-wide search for him; this plastic baby Jesus in the manger.
I bought the cute little set from my sister when she was selling Avon. It was so adorable and just the right size for little hands to play with. The first year I sat it up on the hearth so the kids could play with it. They enjoyed it so much. The oldest would talk for each of the characters in the story as she played. Her younger brother would make animal sounds, sometimes taking one of the pieces to his baby brother to hold and chew on.
The next year when I pulled it out of the box and placed it on the hearth that baby brother was a toddler so he got in on the action too! During the next couple weeks I would find pieces scattered around the house several times a day. I would pick them up, place them back on the hearth, and tell the kids, "Remember, we need to keep baby Jesus and Mary and Joseph on the bricks so we don't lose them!"
Then came the fateful day...baby Jesus was no where to be found. We searched high and low and could not find him. To this day I have no idea where he could have been. Perhaps he got thrown away by accident. Maybe one of the kids flushed him down the toilet. (It happened to Pooh Bear!) Or maybe he was thrown down the air vent.
I was really upset at first. I mean the manger scene is useless without baby Jesus in the manger, right?! Without him it's just a stable with the animals and some random people in it. I almost threw the whole set away. But I didn't. The kids enjoyed playing with it, so I kept it. And every year for the past twenty-two I've continued to bring it out, sit it on the hearth, and wonder, "Where on earth could baby Jesus have gotten too?"
Jesus is missing from the world's Christmas celebrations too. They didn't like the "Christ" in "Merry Christmas" so they threw Him out and say, "Happy Holidays" instead.
They didn't want to hear the songs the angels sang; songs of His glory, of His holiness, of His purpose. So they flushed those away with songs about snowmen and reindeer running over grandmas and mamas kissing santa clause.
They wanted nothing to do with the King of heaven found in a lowly manger so they threw Him down the air vent of secularism. They exchanged Him for stories of a big green monster stealing Christmas joy and flying reindeer with red noses.
Don't get me wrong, I love Santa Clause. I have a whole area of my home decorated with the jolly ole elf. I love the fun and funny songs of Christmas too. And my daughter's ballet company has a production called "The Grinch" that they perform every few years. But the world has taken Christmas, they've stolen baby Jesus and we've just let them take Him. I think its high time we bring Him back!
So this Christmas, every time someone wishes me "Happy Holidays" I’ll loudly proclaim, "Merry Christmas to you!" This Christmas I'm playing "Hark the Hearld Angels Sing" and "O Come Let Us Adore Him" and other Christ-centered Christmas songs loud and proud! This Christmas I'm taking baby Jesus out of the air vent of secularism and putting Him right back in the manger where He belongs. But I'm not leaving Him there.
You see, last week God gave me an epiphany about that little plastic manger scene. He did it through my fourteen-month-old grand-daughter. She was playing with that little set just like her mommy and aunts and uncles did when they were little. She was making some animal noises and putting the pieces in different places. One time I found the little lamb laying down with all the other pieces surrounding it. And I heard God whisper:
"I sent My Son as a baby but He became the sacrificial Lamb."
And suddenly it no longer mattered that this little plastic toy set doesn't have a baby Jesus in the manger because it has the lamb. Suddenly this little plastic toy set became the most realistic of all our manger scenes.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29
The baby in the manger became the Man on the cross. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger so He could one day be wrapped in grave clothes and laid in a tomb.
The good news is: Jesus didn't stay in that grave! Just as he left the manger; growing into a toddler, then a teen, then a man; He left the grave. He rose again so that all who will believe on His name and be saved can have eternal life.
This Christmas baby Jesus is not missing, He is the Lamb.
This Christmas I'm not leaving Jesus in the manger, I'm allowing Him to become the Risen Lord. This Christmas I'm praying the world will see the Christ of Christmas as God's gift to us all. And I'm asking Him to make Himself known to all who have not yet met Him. To those who think this is just another holiday. To those who only want the snowmen and reindeer and green monsters. To all those who want to replace Him with anything other than a lamb.
"Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne. And when He took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down at the feet of the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people. And they sang a new song with these words:
'You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And You have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.'
Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus:
'Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered - to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.'
And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:
'Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the One sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.'
And the four living beings said, 'Amen!' And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb."
May we all fall down and worship the Lamb.
Until next time keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
God bless and keep you. And Merry CHRISTmas to you all!
*This article was originally posted here on December 14,2018.