We have a tradition in our house that when we assemble the manger scene we hide the baby Jesus figurine until Christmas morning. We have been doing this for at least 20 years without any problem (except the few days a couple of years ago when I forgot where I hid him). This year, however, we’ve been required to face an unforeseen difficulty: a seven year-old who wanted to pull every Jesus from every manger scene (we have several) and hide them in places unknown to his parents.
It seemed that every day my wife and son engaged in the same conversation. “Joshua, where is the baby Jesus that was here?” “He’s not supposed to be there,” the boy would say, “since he isn’t born yet.” His mother would firmly but sweetly ask again, “But where is he?” “I hid him, and you can’t find him.” The mind of a first-grader is nothing if not predictable and before long we’d find the figure (without revealing the secret hiding place) and allow him to maintain his master plan of “no baby Jesus ‘til Christmas”.
This ‘missing baby’ problem was not a bad problem to have. In fact, I rejoice just a little that my youngest was getting so much joy out of anticipating the arrival of Jesus. Along with the presents and the decorations and the baking and the lights was a boy who wanted another boy to have his day. So, yesterday, as the sun rose and day began, my seven year old went around and revealed his hiding places, placing Jesus in each of the manger scenes he had disturbed in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
The words of the herald angel to shepherds outside of Bethlehem ring in my thoughts as I think about Josh and his proclivity to abscond with the Savior. After a month of ‘hide and seek’, it is a blessing to hear that Jesus will be found. “You will find a baby….” You – the lowly shepherds that offer little to the great masses other than the dutiful performance menial tasks; will – the certainty that God’s plans cannot be thwarted; find – discover after a careful and exhaustive search; a baby – the Savior, the Christ, the newborn king. Jesus Christ can and will be found by anyone who seeks him.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:27
So, as the hectic pace of the holidays begins to calm and the days ahead begin to unfold, I pray that you will heed the prompting of the angel and set out to seek and find Jesus. For some this may be a new course toward discovery – examining the evidences and promises of scripture that lead beyond the manger to the foot of the cross. For others this may mean a return to familiar territory to gain new experiences and insights – rereading the passages we’ve grown to love and wrestling with the ones that bewilder. Wherever your path leads, I pray that you find Christ as you face the new year.