Each year during Advent, the Glennon House puts up a beautiful crèche scene, complete with angels, shepherds, wise men and, of course, the manger. I always love seeing all the familiar characters return to their positions, but one is conspicuously missing—the baby Jesus Christ. Until Christmas Eve the manger remains empty, because technically our Savior has not yet been born. So until Christmas Eve, we put the figure of Jesus in a drawer.
Beyond the practical panic (“Do not lose Baby Jesus because it will break up the set!”), there’s a spiritual side to this. During December, Christians often set up lovely displays, sing traditional carols, and attend amazing services with their families and friends. All of this, as the old prayer book says, “Is meet and right so to do.” There’s nothing wrong with doing these things. But in the holiday mayhem, amidst the multitude of tasks both ordinary and sacred, how many times have we put Jesus in the drawer?
For a long time I powered through life on my own steam, only taking Jesus out of the drawer on special occasions (like when I was sick or when I screwed up). In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Well, I was the poster child for that fact. My empty life was just like that manager scene with its vacant crèche—pretty but pointless, and waiting for a baby who’d been born over two-thousand years ago, under a sky lit up with angels.
This December I’ll sing traditional carols and attend amazing services. I’ll bake Christmas cookies from my grandmother’s secret recipe (her name was Martha Stewart), do my best to comfort the sick and weary, and try not let my joy get lost in the holiday mayhem. But as I pass by the crèche with its empty manger, I’ll remember what the world was like—what my world was like—before I took that little baby out of the drawer and put Him in my heart. Everything else in my life can go back into the drawer, but never Christ. Not. Ever.
Maybe, when no one’s looking, I’ll take Him out early.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 (NLT)