Bobby was on a Mission
By Pastor Jim Jenkins
Bobby was on a mission. He had something very important to show me. He grabbed my hand and pulled me into St Dominic's Church. A handful of people were queued up at the confessionals. A few were lighting candles and others praying in the pews. He was all bundled up and had those boots--you remember--the rubber ones with the big buckles. Little boys never buckle them up, they just slosh/walk with the buckles flapping.
He had that kind of whisper that that could wake the dead. As we sloshed our way to the front of the church the sheer size of the sanctuary created an echo that amplified the rhythmic jangling of the boot buckles and the decibels of his whispers: "UNCLE JIMMY, UNCLE JIIMMY, C'MON!"
When we got to the front, he showed me the huge nativity set up at the communion rail. Then, he pointed up to the altar to the gold tabernacle. "UNCLE JIMMY, UNCLE JIMMY, baby Jesus lives in there!"
"Is that so?" I asked.
"Oh yeah, they let Him out every Christmas!"
I smile as I remember it. Bob is now in his thirties, married, with two beautiful daughters who no doubt have whispered a few gems like that to him.
Last year I was in a Target store and I asked a young woman who worked there. "Do you sell nativity sets?"
"What is a nativity set?" she asked?
Somewhere between a little boy in jangly boots and a twenty something salesperson, I was struck with the fact that we have checkered, even confusing, ideas about Christmas. We have removed any vestiges of the actual event from our public life.
I once attended a public school Holiday Celebration (don't dare call it Christmas!) at an elementary school. It was a play about Frosty The Snowman Meets Space Aliens. (I can't make this stuff up!) I noticed the tortured attempts to act festive on the parts of the teachers and parents.
One little guy from our Sunday school, who had a part in the Frosty extravaganza, cried when he asked me, "Pastor Jim, how come they don't sing about Jesus anymore?"
Thinking back, I have three things to say to Bobby, to the sales clerk and to my little buddy from Sunday school:
He doesn't live in a gold box on an altar. He wants to live in our hearts.
The Nativity set depicts a very real thing that happened in a stable that has changed everything.
If they knew Him they would sing . . . LOUD!
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