“Baby Jesus is missing and Joseph is dead!” This was how I greeted my husband last year as we swapped cars (and a toddler) at the gym. I had taken it upon myself to get out our Christmas decorations that Saturday morning. I have several nativities that I love, each of which was acquired well before my son was born. Without thinking, I put them out. And my then nearly two-year-old was immediately drawn to them.

I suppose as a pastor I should be grateful that he was drawn to them. But my son didn’t just look at these nativity scenes, he needed to touch them, hold them, carry them around. Because that’s what kids his age do.

The one I placed on the coffee table was a nativity advertised for children. And it was made of ceramic. (Some manufacturer did not think that through.) My son loved them. For quite awhile, he took each figure and held in his hands, examining each closely, babbling and smiling at the figures. He would put one down to pick up another.

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Making Christmas Merry

December 4, 2013

“Isn’t really that merry anymore,” she said to me, her thin lips pulled tight under her dark glasses that she always wore, even inside. I had just wished her a “Merry Christmas” since I wouldn’t be back to this little congregation until the Sunday after Christmas.

“Isn’t really that merry anymore,” she said, “because my kids are all gone now, you see. My youngest died just a couple years ago. And I have no family. So Christmases aren’t that merry anymore.”

It was one of those moments when I didn’t know what to say. Maybe because it was such a hard truth or maybe because it was a sacred space. Or maybe both. But I was left for a moment without any words, scraping up whatever I could to find a response.

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