Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beyond the manger ... by Shannon

This year when my mom, who loves Nativity sets, asked what Jocelyn might like for Christmas, I mentioned the Fisher Price Little People set. Since Advent was always a big deal in our home, I shouldn't have been surprised to find the set, along with the coordinating inn and wise men sets, on our doorstep in time for the beginning of the Advent season. We cleared off a side table to allow for the manger, the inn, and the wise men to each occupy a level, and Jocelyn has loved it!

She ignores most of the characters, just playing with the animals, except for baby Jesus. In the pictures above you may have noticed that the main man is missing from the scene. That's because Jocelyn runs around the house with the figure that she calls "baby 'sus." She covers him with kisses and shoves him in the cats' faces, shouting "baby 'sus" the entire time. Occasionally, she gets distracted and leaves the baby somewhere, but she always returns to find him (sometimes after an extensive search). Thus, baby Jesus is rarely in the Nativity set.

As I thought about this, it brought to mind how easy it is for all of us to leave Jesus in the manger. Babies are pretty safe and unintimidating, right? We're often more comfortable with Him in the manger as a babe than we are, for example, as a man clearing the money changers out of the temple. And we're often more comfortable leaving Jesus in His place in the manager … or perhaps at church after Christmas Eve or Easter or just a typical Sunday worship service … than we are taking Him with us in our lives, carrying Him around, giving Him kisses with the way we live our lives, and sharing His message to others (though, unlike Jocelyn's approach with the cats, not shoving Him in their faces!).

I think we'll be beginning a new tradition this year. As I pack up our Nativity set this year, I'll be leaving baby 'sus out as a reminder that He entered His human life in a stable but that He was never meant to stay there.