Our daughter enjoys playing with her Little People Nativity Set, especially pushing the angel on top so that “Away in the Manger” will play. She can push the button 30 times and never tire of the sound. Recently she wanted to show us something about it and we realized that baby Jesus had gone missing. Given the fact that He is the central figure in the unfolding drama, this is quite distressing. So we walked around the house sorrowfully asking each other “where did Jesus go?” We are still on alert for the infant in the hay.
As we were encircling the house in our search the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that this can be the outcome of my Christmas celebration if I’m not attentive. We’ve put in extra effort to find and decorate a great tree, prepare the house, plan for guests, send out Christmas cards and shop for family members. And somehow in the midst of all this doing we have the same crisis on hand as has occurred with our nativity scene- where is Jesus?
On Friday in the quiet of the morning I found Him. Sean was in Michigan visiting some friends so I had the rare responsibility of getting Nathan out the door early in the morning and on to the school bus. Usually Sean is kind enough to take care of this parenting role as he goes to work early and I need more sleep than him. This time I got up with the sky still black and helped Nathan get ready for his last day of school before Christmas break. We went outside to wait for the bus and just enjoyed the dark and crisp morning air. Christmas lights still twinkled on many houses and the neighborhood was starting to stir, yet the moment was still serene. Once Nathan was on the bus I was back in the warmth of the house deciding how to use my extra time. I was led to Psalm 84.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
The Psalm continues to recount the unsurpassed pleasure of God’s presence and our blessedness if we put our trust in Him. Gentler than the falling snow. Sweeter than a fresh baked cookie. More beautiful than the finest of trees. More satisfying than the company of our closest friends and relatives. Our Savior longs for us to find Him and to be found in Him. In the stillness I found my Savior so very present. So even if the plastic Jesus remains elusive, Immanuel, God with Us is always ready to be found.