Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Child Is This?

I got to Jubilee Reach this morning before the children arrived, just in time to catch Luis setting up the two-foot tall nativity scene under the soaring Christmas tree in the lobby. Baby Jesus, in the manger, was placed in middle, as Mary and Joseph, the Three Kings, and one other guy that I think I should know but must have forgotten, were positioned around, looking adoringly upon Him. A donkey and three sheep nestled in beside. Each of the figures sported an electric plug in their back, waiting to be connected to an electrical source so they might glow. I had the incredible experience of being there as some of the kids arrived. As they came through the door, the children spotted them right away, rushing right past their waiting name tags to check out this display. Hats and backpacks still attached. This was a moment of Christmas wonderment that I wish everyone could experience.

I was checking out the ornaments on the tree that the children had made earlier in the week, as the questions came bursting out.

“What are those?”…. “Why is that baby there?” … “Who are those guys and what are they carrying?” …“How come those sheep are lying down?”

[I am humming “What Child is This?” as I write.]

I had a flash of panic as I realized what an important moment this was and what an awesome responsibility I had to get this right.

“This is the Christmas story.” …“That’s baby Jesus. He was born on Christmas.” …“Those are three kings with presents for baby Jesus.” …“Jesus was born in the barn and the sheep are sleeping by him.” I start to think I’m pretty good at this.

Then the questions got harder. “Who is He?”…“Is He real?”…“How come these things (the electrical plugs) are there?”

Fortunately some answers came. “He was really nice and taught people about God and love.” … “Yes, He is real. He was born a long, long time ago. Even before your Mommy and Daddy and your grandparents.” The hardest question was the one about the electrical plugs. Somehow I stumbled through that.

As I was down there on my knees right next to each child checking out the nativity scene I had my own questions. “How is it possible they don’t know this part of the Christmas story?” “How did I get so lucky to experience this wonderful moment?” “How awesome is this?” “Why did they put those darn plugs right in the middle of their backs?” What a great morning. It’s beginning to feel like Christmas.
Written December 2007

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