We have realised, with a stomach-sinking-no-this-can’t-be-happening kind of feeling, that Baby Jesus has gone missing. Yes, I realise this needs some explanation, so here goes. Like many churches here our church has a nativity set that gets displayed over Christmas (with the wise men travelling round the church to arrive for Epiphany). Obviously, Baby Jesus is a rather key figure, and what is more is a figure that cannot be substituted with another figure (absolutely no other babies in a set). If Baby Jesus is not there at the 5.00pm children’s Crib Service on Christmas Eve a riot is likely to ensue. The adults aren’t likely to take this major absence any more calmly either, at the midnight or Christmas morning worship. For this reason some churches lock up Baby Jesus somewhere safe away from the rest of the set. Sadly, our church did not. When last seen, Baby Jesus had a broken hand, so we had hoped someone might have taken him away to mend, but that possibility has been ruled out. We have had to face the fact that Baby Jesus has gone for good. We found one on ebay and tried but failed to win it (raising the question of how much we would pay for our Saviour). We shall probably end up using a small doll, although we do have one couple in church who have a baby due around Christmas, so maybe we’ll have a real live baby for the nativity scene!
I know I could weave all this into a beautifully rounded homily, but I’m in the midst of too much chaos and rush to think clearly. All I know is that through this practical anxiety I have felt profoundly, overwhelmingly, grateful that while this little figure might be missing, Jesus is not. Nor do I have to search and bid for him on ebay only to lose out in the last minute.