He's Here! Christmas 3rd in 4-part Series
by Archie Wortham --show me more like this
© Cristina Fumi - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.
"He's here. We just have to look harder," Elizabeth's dad told her. Tuesday will be Christmas and many of you will be wondering what all the fuss was about as you realize what you were looking for is not in a stocking or a box, no matter how it is wrapped. Some of you will still be empty because you forgot Christmas is already here, you just didn't look hard enough.
I'm so blessed by friends and family, despite the 11th of September. Awhile back, a friend shared something I'll never forget. And as part of the third of my four-part holiday series, please listen to a 1968 Christmas story.
Elizabeth's family lived in Mt. Gilead, NC, a town of less than 1,000 people. No one locked their doors or their cars. Youngsters walked ‘uptown' by themselves without fear. Mt. Gilead was a lot like Mayberry of ‘The Andy Griffin Show.' Elizabeth's dad was a pastor, and the parsonage they lived in was down the hill from the church. One Saturday evening in early December, returning from a Duke football game, her family found a beautiful ceramic Nativity set placed on their dining room table lit only by a single light. Someone had ‘let themselves in' and left it for them.
"The Nativity was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen," Elizabeth said. "The pieces were so wonderfully detailed that my entire family stood there totally awed—speechless. Slowly we picked up the pieces and looked more closely as nothing was missing. They were shepherds, the three kings, large camels, tiny sheep, Mary's donkey, a cow, a beautiful angel...Joseph, Mary and an incredibly small baby Jesus that laid in a manager. All of us were so touched by this gift from a couple in our church. In future years, the Nativity would become the most beloved of all our family's Christmas decorations, having a place of honor each year.
"The year after we received the nativity, my Dad wanted to share it with our church family and decided to set it up on the altar in the sanctuary during Advent and Christmastide. I went with him to unpack the Nativity at the church. We had taken great care the Christmas before to wrap each piece carefully. Carefully we unwrapped the shepherds, kings, animals and the stable. We placed them in their proper spot as we took them out. After we had unwrapped all the bundles we could find, I noticed that the baby Jesus was missing! He was so tiny, we thought maybe we had missed Him in the pile of paper on the floor.
"Hearts beating fast, we began to take each piece of paper and go through it. He wasn't there. Tears welling in my eyes at the thought of the most important part of the Nativity being lost, I looked at my dad and said, ‘Isn't that a fine how'd you do? We can't find the Lord!' My dad's calm voice assured me, ‘He's here. We just have to look harder!' he told me."
In the bottom corner of the second box they found ‘the Lord.' Elizabeth related that "Baby Jesus was unharmed, unwrapped and all alone!" She and her dad found the baby Jesus because they looked. Elizabeth McMillan Smith now married, with children of her own, has never forgotten that Christmas. Dads, can you remember your dad looking at you, giving you strength to overcome something thorugh the tears in your eyes? Sometimes we just have to look harder to find not only love in our parents' eyes, but to find love in our own. Sometimes that happens because we're just so swept up in the boxes and paper, we forget how we got all wrapped up in the first place, and lose sight of what's important.
If you've lost something, you'll never find it unless you look for it. What your tradition is for this holiday, I have no idea. But if you feel you're missing something, realize this only you can do something about it. If you feel you need to break a pattern, break it! If you need to make a phone call, make it. If you need to ask for forgiveness, ask for it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. But don't just sit there and do nothing! Just like Elizabeth and her dad, if you don't continue pursuing what you know is there, you won't find it. The important thing is ‘don't give up. Just because things didn't work out the way you wanted them this year, that's no reason for you to stop trying or believing. Share a little. Give a little. And remember, if you think you've lost the baby Jesus, go where you last remember seeing Him. I bet you'll find Him, waiting to be unwrapped by you.
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