I’ve been moving baby Jesus around. Not a lot. Today, I moved him from one window sill to another. Behind the curtain. But peeking out just enough that — if you happened to be looking for him — you’d see him lying there in his ceramic manger filled with ceramic hay. I’ll probably move him again next week, after we’ve lit the third Advent candle in church. The pink one. The one that represents “Joy”.
During this season of Advent — the season of waiting — many people set up a nativity scene in their homes: Mary and Joseph. Sheep and donkeys. Some hay scattered on the floor of the creche. I have a wooden creche (handmade by a man in my parents’ church) and ceramic figurines. This year, for the first time, I’ve left the space empty between Mary and Joseph, and I’ve set the baby Jesus on the far side of the room. Not yet arrived.
Each week, I’ve been moving the figurine of the baby just a bit closer to that space between Mary and Joseph. Funny how having Jesus hidden behind the curtain makes the whole thing feel a bit more special.
Yesterday in church, H told us the story about Mary and Joseph losing Jesus on their way home from Jerusalem, where they’d been celebrating the Passover. It made me think about what it might mean for me to leave a big party without first checking to make sure my child was somewhere in the minivan and how it must have been some kind of party for me to let that happen. And it WAS a big party! Passover is no small thing! It’s the story of God sparing an entire people group a visit from the Angel of Death. That’s huge!
No wonder Mary and Joseph lost Jesus.
Of course, I am not unlike those parents of the Lord (except, of course, for the “parents of the Lord” part). When things are going well, and spirits are high, and everyone is talking at once, and I wake up every day with a smile on my face, and I’ve got my mind on something spectacular God has done, I can get a bit woozy — drunk, even — from all of the brouhaha, and in my glee, I lose my focus.
Sometimes, I even start to think the fabulous thing God just did is the extent of God’s greatness, and I set up camp right there where God did that last, great thing. I settle into my seat, rest my elbows on my knees, my chin on my palms, and think I’ve got Him figured out. I think He’s right behind the curtain, on the windowsill. I think He’s where I saw Him last.
Like my keys.
The truth, of course, is that I am not capable of figuring Jesus out. I mean, let’s take, for instance, the way I’ve mixed up the names God and Jesus in this one post as if I’m talking about one person. And, I am! In fact, there’s the Holy Spirit, a third person I haven’t even mentioned, who’s the same person as these other two. And, while I’m using the word “person”, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover even that’s not exactly accurate. See? God is way beyond me!
The minute I think I’ve figured Him out, I’ve lost Him. Sometimes it helps to go back to the place where I last saw Him, but not because that’s where He is. No. Most of the time, He’s moved on and He leaves a trail of bread crumbs — sometimes a passage of scripture, a hymn I’d forgotten, a blog post you write — to point me to where He went. Because He doesn’t want me settling in. He doesn’t want me holding steady. He’s got plans for me, you know. And for you.
Every Monday, I want to link up with Michelle, but it always takes me such a long time to process the sermons from the day before. I’m like that with most things when it comes to God. Slow. Anyway, I’m giving it a shot today. Maybe I’m not the only one who doesn’t have Him all figured out?