The Missing Child of Christmas
She had just turned two, and we were excited to observe Amanda’s first Christmas that she would be “aware” of what was happening. She was our second born and was just starting to express herself.
It was Christmas Eve and the small rural church we were serving had their traditions. First of all, there was the Christmas Eve pageant with bath-robed shepherds and Wise Men carrying tin foiled gifts. My task was to offer words at the end of the drama. I spoke of the coming birth of Jesus and the need to not get lost in the rush to Santa Claus.
But of course, just after that we all went to the Hut (that’s what the Fellowship Hall is called if you are in the country) and sure enough the jolly old elf appeared offering gifts for the kids. When it comes to competing with Santa, it is, after all, an uphill battle.
The evening came to a close, and we tucked our two children in for the night with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Okay that’s a different story.
We were excited to see Amanda’s reaction to the presents under the tree and the half- eaten carrot and cookie crumbs scattered around an empty glass of milk. Early that morning, as we were just about to get out of bed and be ready to watch for Amanda, I heard the shuffling of her pajama-feet as they crossed the linoleum floor in the kitchen. She would soon be at the tree, so I turned to Betsy and said that we needed to get to the den where the tree and the evidence of Santa were waiting.
As I rolled over, Amanda’s eyes caught mine at mattress level. I looked into her wide eyes and she simply asked, “Where is baby Jesus?” She had already been to the tree and had witnessed the wrapped gifts and Santa and Rudolf leftovers, but she remembered that her father had said the night before that the next day would be the birth of baby Jesus. She wanted to know where he was.
Now, I have a theological degree. I have studied doctrine and know quite a bit about the Bible, but as I looked into those eyes, I was loss for words. Before I could respond, she offered another question, “Is he up at the church?”
So, this Christmas, I leave you with Amanda’s question, “Where is baby Jesus?” Well, I suppose he is “up at the church” but what is most important is that he is other places. Martin Luther once said, “You are a little Christ to your neighbor.” Some theologian whose name I have long since forgotten offered the idea that, “We are an extension of the Incarnation.”
In other words, it seems that we are part of the answer to Amanda’s question. Some will again this year wonder, “Where is Christmas in this dark world?”
The baby grew up and said into the wide eyes of stunned disciples, “You are the light of the world.” This Christmas, let your light shine. You and I are the answer to her question.
Dr. Jody Seymour
Jody Seymour retired after serving Davidson United Methodist Church as Senior Pastor for 13 years and being a pastor for forty-six years in the Western North Carolina Conference. He is the author of six books and resides just outside of Davidson with his wife, Betsy.