Monday, December 6, 2010

On the Trail of Jesus Again

I first published this last December, but it is still true today and in fact, my family and I just went to this same church Bethlehem Town re-enactment this past weekend (because really you just can't search for Jesus too much) and it was lovely to see that it was just the same! Only changes, this year I had to shush my husband as he commented a bit too loudly that, "Shouldn't Mary be played by a 14 year old girl rather than a 40 something woman?" "SHHHHH!"

And this year for some reason, I felt the need to explain to my 3 year old as we walked away, "You know that wasn't the real Baby Jesus, right?"

So here it is from December 7, 2009:

"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!

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  1. That was excellent! Thank you for sharing it. I came over from Heavenly Homemakers and so glad I did.

  2. Wonderful post--wish we had a "find Jesus" walk through here. I am challenged to listen more to what he wants and "find" his plan for me--even if it isn't what I thought it would be.

  3. This was soo good and oh soo true. We do that don't we?? I remember a particular boy in our neighborhood when my kids were growing up who was just plain old bad news. His dad had left the family, his mom was working and ALWAYS gone and he and his older brother just ran wild. Always in trouble at school etc. And THIS was who my younger son picked out to hang with. I forbid it at first. (a mother bear defending her cub HAHA) My husband though (wise man) stepped in and over ruled me and put some restrictions on the friendship for sure, but allowed the boys to "HANG" Long story short? To this day this (man now) and my son are best friends (they are 30) He was my son's best man at his wedding. He calls us mom and dad. AND BEST part of all? He just recently finally gave his heart to the Lord. He went to church with us for years, (he had a standing invitiation) watched as his best friend became a minister, and got married etc. He has led a pretty wild life. But God FINALLY touched his heart...How I cried that day watching him stand at the alter and cry....Your right, sometimes (most times) real life is just plain messy...I am soo glad you wrote this post. Have a good day. HUGS


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