Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Baby Jesus Is Back

Once upon a time, many years ago, maybe thirty years or so, the mother in the family spotted a tiny wooden manger scene in a holiday catalog. The carved figures, none taller than an inch and a half, were brightly painted. "This set would be perfect for my children to play with at Christmas," the mother thought. 

And verily so, she ordered the toy crèche and throughout the children's growing up years the miniature figures became a part of the family's holiday times. The children would set up the manger scene on the kitchen table or under the tree, and, in so doing, the Story was told again and again. 

But the children grew to be adults and one Christmas, in setting the tiny figures out in the kitchen windowsill, the mother noticed that Baby Jesus was missing. "Lost," she thought. "We have lost the baby." Like all mothers, when their children leave home, even though mothers know that children must grow up, the mother felt the loss of the tiny carving for the little creche had found its way to the family's Christmas celebrations.

She knew it was just a representation  of the Christ Child, just a piece of painted wood, yet every Christmas she would take out the little figures and, fingering them and remembering, she would wish that they would somehow or another find the tiny painted figure somewhere in the big empty farmhouse. 

Christmas after Christmas came and the mother became a grandmother. The little toy crèche moved to another house. By now the grown up children talked about how Jesus must have been tossed out with wrapping paper some year. Jesus was probably in a landfill, or worse, incinerated. But maybe, the mother thought, the little wooden piece is stuck in the cracks of the oak flooring in the old farmhouse. 

Finally the mother thought and thought about the Story. Baby Jesus was still in the manger. The problem wasn't that Baby Jesus was gone. The problem was that the tiny painted piece of wood was gone. The mother knew a famous woodcarver and a talented Artist. "Maybe I could ask the Carver and his Wife if they could make a new baby for the very old manger scene," she thought. 

And so she dared to ask the famous Carver if he would gently carve a new Baby Jesus. And she asked, too, if his wife, the Artist, could paint the baby so Mary and Joseph would have their baby back.

And it came to pass that the Carver and the Artist, using their magical talents, created a new manger and in that manger they fashioned a Baby Jesus for the Holy Family. When Christmas time came, they bundled up the little creche with all of its brightly painted figures and packed them safely into a postal box.

The Mother, upon opening the box, carefully pulled out the figures, one by one, until she came to the Baby. Yes, a new Baby, but still the Old Story.

And so the figures returned to the kitchen windowsill where they remind the Mother, when she pauses in a day's work, that Baby Jesus really isn't lost. In fact, Baby Jesus comes back every Christmas, making the Old Story into a New Story, again.

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