Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Trail of Jesus

"Would you help me find the baby Jesus?" the shepherd asks my family and me. "Sure!" we reply.

The church has set up a make-shift Bethlehem town. We ask all over -- at the baker, the weaver, the work-working shop - and they've all seen a man with a very pregnant woman on a donkey. We follow the trail and are finally led to the inn.

The innkeepers tell us, "Yeah they came here, we didn't have any room left. Every room in town is full because of the census. But we felt bad since she was obviously about to have her baby, so we said they could stay in the stable out back. They're out there now."

And so we head outside and there they are in the stable. "Mary", "Joseph", "Baby Jesus", an angel, and a donkey.

This is our 2nd year coming to this church tour and I love watching my kids the moment we find "Baby Jesus". The look of amazement on their faces is priceless!

Even though I know what's coming when we head outside, I can't help feeling awe myself when encountering the manger scene.

My boys showered the donkey with much love and pats, and my daughter got to hold "baby Jesus".

And then we headed inside for some hot chocolate and a cookie.

BUT FIRST we stopped off at the massive bottle of hand-sanitizer and ensured that the whole family got a thorough cleansing.

Don't get me wrong, I realize the importance of washing your hands after petting animals, and I'm glad the sanitizer was there. But the idea of encountering "Jesus" and walking back in to douse ourselves with hand-sanitizer just struck me as funny.

Then I started thinking how often we do that in regular life.

Encounter Jesus here on earth but then it feels a little messy so we immediately go lather up in the hand-sanitizer. And then from the safety of our comfort-zone we can reflect on the "moving sermon" or great quiet-time.

Tom Davis has a book called Red Letters: Living a Faith That Bleeds and the "red letters" he talks about are Christ's words as they are printed in most Bibles. But his point is how many Christians don't seem to really take these words to heart.

When Jesus tells us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), show compassion for sinners (Matt 9:12-13), deny ourselves and follow him (Matt 16:24), become servants to others (Matt 21:26-27), do for the least (Matt 25:45), or show mercy (Luke 10:37) I believe we are at first in awe of the message, but then we close our Bibles or drive home from church.

And rather than letting that uncomfortable God-wants-me-to-do-something-different feeling settle into our very being, we start washing it off, diluting the message.

"Well, that wasn't really a message for me in this stage of life." "God knows I serve him." "I give my time and money already." "That person doesn't want me to show God's mercy to them." "I can't allow my son to play with that boy, his family is not Christian. Think of the influence!"

And on and on it goes. We sip our hot chocolate and walk further and further away from the uncomfortable smell and cold of the stable.

But Jesus was not found in a sterile hospital room or even a hotel!

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.

Check out Gratituesday and Tuesdays Unwrapped.


  1. Oh, I'm so with you. Sometimes there just isn't time to think it through & figure out how to implement; sometimes we just choose not to acknowledge the obvious...yup, I recognize what you're saying.

  2. Very good point. And I like the metaphor of a "sanitized" Christianity. You are making me think today.

  3. so true. A lot of times we want Christianity to be easy and simple. But God didn't call us to an easy task. There are many messy days. Thanks for sharing.

  4. This was so perfect, and so true.
    And really, what a cool experience for the kids!

  5. I like your perspective on this. Thank you. Never again will a bottle of hand sanitizer be the same. Really! I mean that in the best way:)

  6. Really good thoughts here and I enjoyed your whole thought process. What a beautiful season this is for reflection!

  7. What a neat thing to do with your kids. A wonderful and meaningful Christmas memory. And what you said is soo true. It is so easy for us sometimes to just go about our lives thinking those very things, "well, I put in my time at the church, I try to be compassionate to others, but sometimes when life gets messy it is tempting to look the other way. I will share a long (sorry) story about a neighborhood boy who the rest of the mom's of the neighborhood had banned their children from being around. He was somewhat of a bully and always in trouble. But I felt bad for him and I allowed him to play at our house where I could watch closely what was going on and being said. I got soo many opportunities to talk to him about the Lord and choices in his life etc. He began to occasionally go to church with us. He and my youngest son went on to be the best of friends. At the age of 19 he gave his life to the Lord and never has a holiday gone by he doesn't come by to wish "his second mom" a Merry Christmas. How glad I am that the Lord impressed upon my heart to love him, rather than to shun him. Have a great day. Blessings to you, Debbie

  8. a great book that goes hand in hand with this post is CRAZY LOVE by Francis Chan. a great read. very convicting of this very thing of lukewarm living.

  9. That is such a neat idea! What a great thing to do as a family

  10. What a great picture.....I think I'm sometimes wrapped up in the beauty of the cross, and forget the messiness. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. You are wise and wonderful.
    And you know I'll be thinking of this every time I see sanitizer now.

    Great post.

  12. What an incredilbe tradtion for your children to take part in!

    This was a great post, and you gave me something to ponder on today.

  13. Wow! Funny how simple little actions like the hand sanitizer can make you realize something so profound and true. You really got me thinking when I read this. Thanks for posting.


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