A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - The Baby Jesus Lying in a Bread Basket

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Personally, I prefer my Jesus to be detachable.

Now don't get me wrong,
I like having Jesus around.

But during the 4 weeks of advent,
I prefer an empty manger, please.

I have several nativity scenes
that I place around my home during the season.

They vary in style and look
but they all have one thing in common.....
a detachable Jesus.

When it comes to creche (nativity) scenes,
I am very mindful of protocol and order.

Week one of Advent, there is only a lamb in the stable.

Week two, the cattle shows up
 According to the carol, Away In A Manger, they are lowing.
If you assume the title is true in Silent Night,
then I don't really know what the cattle were doing.

By week three,
the rest of the animals wander in.

Week four,
the innkeeper (that's the guy holding the lantern) 
starts hanging around.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, 
just before I leave for church,
Joseph and Mary come a knocking.

The detachable Jesus makes His appearance
only after I return home at midnight.
The shepherds usually crawl in about 1am.

Let's not even talk about the Wise Men.....
they best not show up till Jan 6,
long after the shepherds go back to abiding in the fields.

No, I Iike my Jesus detachable.
There's only one problem with a detachable Jesus....
where do you put him during advent??

Last year, when I came  home from church services at midnight
I did my usual routine
and slipped into my pajamas and slippers
(sorry, no cap for me, no kerchief for mama either).

I turned on a Christmas broadcast from a 
world-renowned cathedral,
and let the music bathe the house.

Then I went in search of the Alpha & Omega.

Now I am sure that you have your special place that you put your Emmanuel.
Mine is in the silverware drawer of the hutch,
cradled in the slotted spoon.

I'm not sure why the slotted spoon,
except that it kind of looks like a good place
to cradle a baby Jesus.

As I opened the drawer,
I began to sing  with great vigor Joy to the World.

As I reached  let earth receive her king,
I gasped.

There was no king to receive.
The Savior was not in the slotted spoon.
I looked under the ladle for the Lord of Lords.
under the pickle fork for the Prince of Peace
under the butter knife for the Bright Morning Star.

The King of Kings was nowhere to be found.
The Christ Child had escaped from the cutlery.

I was devastated. 

As a pastor,
you learn to adapt
when things don't go as you planned in worship.

But as a common man
in search of my ceramic Jesus,
I was lost.

After several  minutes
of searching every nook and cranny of the hutch,
I accepted Christmas Eve news that was even worse
than being placed on the naughty list.

My Mighty God
was missing in action.

I did the next best thing.
Since my Rose of Sharon was nowhere to be found,
I pulled a cloth rose out of a nearby decoration
and laid it in the manger.

I went to bed saddened that 
I had somehow misplaced the Wonderful Counselor.

While it is true that the Everlasting Father
never abandons His children,
it is true that His children
often walk away from Him.

Apart from having a liturgical correct creche,
 having a detachable Jesus
is not a good thing.

If I couldn't detach Him,
then I couldn't walk away from Him.

If I couldn't walk away from Him,
then I wouldn't fall into the darkness of my sin.

I closed my eyes and slept into the darkness of that night.

I awoke Christmas morning to a beautiful sun splashed morning.

As an adult,
my first instinct Christmas morning
is to go to the kitchen for a hot beverage.
The days of running down the stairs to the Christmas tree 
are long since gone.

As I waited for my tea to boil,
I remembered that my Lion of Judah was missing.
The sadness of the night began to return.

Then as surely as the light of Christmas morning
filled my home,
light filled my head and I remembered.....

I had polished the silver last month.....
at the beginning of advent.

4 weeks before there was no room at the inn for the great I AM,
there was no room in the cutlery draw for my Messiah!

I remembered.

The Bread of Life was lying in the bread basket!
The Hallelujah Chorus erupted
as the Word become flesh took His rightful place in a humble manger.

As we approach another celebration of Christmas,
many of us are saddened by the rampant commercialism
and the inordinate distractions 
that the season brings.

Let the cash register continue to ring up its purchases,.....
Meanwhile the Good Shepherd continues to account for each of His flock.

Let the electric meters continue to whirl out of control......
Meanwhile the Consolation of Heaven continues to pray on our behalf.

Let the ovens continue to bake up confectionary delights........
Meanwhile the Bread of Life has been offered to the world.

Let the world do what it has always done,
it is no less busy or distracted then it was in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.

What matters the most
is our attachment to Jesus.

This year, I know He is safely cradled in the slotted spoon for a few more days.
More importantly, He is cradled in my heart.
May He be cradled in yours 
and may your celebration of Christmas stir your heart and soul.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the fields,
keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And an angel of the Lord stood before them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them
and they were terribly frightened.
And the angel of the Lord said to them,
do not be afraid;
for behold I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all people;
for today in the city of David, there has been born for you,
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
                                  Luke 2:8-11

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