Out came the Christmas decorations. Tree. Lights. Ornaments. Nativity. Our little one was enamored with all the shiny new additions to our home. At the time he was only two years old and didn’t remember his previous Christmases, so watching him experience the wonders for the first time (again) was a joy.
Then it was time to set up his own little nativity. Already quite familiar with the name and importance of Jesus (‘We go to church and learn about Jesus!‘) I began to explain to Conlan that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and Jesus is very special so we make our houses extra pretty with trees and lights.
As I unwrapped each piece I told the story of Jesus’ birth. Conlan carefully and proudly placed each figure in the stable, and soon there was only one small plastic bag remaining in the bottom of the box.
Slowly and intentionally I began to open the final piece. ‘And this last one is Jesus,‘ I whispered dramatically. ‘Jesus?!?’ Conlan’s eyes were wide.
I held out my hand and felt my heart soar as my little one peered intently at the piece de resistance of his nativity set.
Then he looked up at me, furrowed his brow, and said, ‘Huh?’
At that moment I looked at the little plastic baby in my hand and realized what a challenge we had ahead of us as parents. I briefly considered launching into a full explanation about how Jesus was born so he could die on a cross for the sins of the world…and quickly decided against it. Instead I told him that this was a toy baby Jesus, and that the real Jesus is bigger.
I know, I know. A theological genius, I am not.
I can’t help but reflect on that story and think that Conlan’s reaction was not unlike those of Jesus’ day. Waiting for their King to come boldly & mightily, the humility of His entry didn’t fit. In fact, it was just plain confusing.
‘This is what I’ve been waiting for? What’s the big deal about a baby? This is the reason we go to church, Mom?’
And so, thanks to the beautifully innocent and honest eyes of my two-year-old, I was once again been reminded of the wonder of Christmas.
The impossible birth.
The incredible life.
The incomparable love.
The indescribable gift.