A rogue toddler reportedly stole the baby Jesus at a Christmas Program in Tennessee.

I remembered something on the way to one of my churches for the Christmas Eve Service.  I happened long ago and I was probably in the 5th grade.  We were worshipping in an old Baptist church we rented in Leadville CO.  It was old and cold and heated by a coal oil stove.  It had the baptistery open pool for dunking and that is where our Christmas pageant was held.  Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger were down in front of me.  Shepherds with wooly sheep and crooks were below me to the right and I was an angel standing on the pool side looking down saying the Gospel from Luke (we had to memorize in those days).  As the pageant progressed I noticed Mary was getting tired.  She started out strong and was starting to fade.  Soon she took her blanket headscarf off and stood up and kind of stumbled down the steps toward the congregation and her mother.  Joseph looked like he might bolt too, but the mother kept speaking in a loud stage whisper for Mary to “get back to the manger”.  Half way down the aisle she flounced around and went back to the manger, grabbed baby Jesus by the arm, and dragged Him bumping down the steps and the aisle back to her mother where she declared, “I couldn’t leave Him in the hay”.

It occurred to me on that cold Christmas Eve that Jesus was dragged around quite a bit.  Taken from the manger and moved to a house he is dragged off to the temple to be dedicated and circumcised.  He is dragged off to Egypt when a mad King tries to kill Him.  He is dragged back to Nazareth and dragged to the temple every year by His parents.  He is baptized and according to Mark, pushed into the wilderness to be tempted.  He might just as well have been  dragged.  His ministry is a frenetic travelogue as He is dragged by the will of the Father, and the Father’s business all over the place healing the sick and feeding the hungry, driving out demons, and “doing good”.  Then was dragged off to trial and bumps and bruises and beatings and dragged to a cross where he bled out to be the “atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

It would be nice to leave Him in the hay, but we can’t.  That peaceful Christmas scene changes ferociously soon after the pageant is over.  We need to drag Him around with us into the hospital rooms and the funeral parlors and the disaster areas of our life.  Luther said that Jesus stuck Himself into baptismal waters so that when we are baptized and come out of the water we drag Jesus with us.

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