Advent Devotional December 16: Written by Rique Carson in 1999

Matthew 18:3-4 

As we go through the Christmas season, we need only to look at children and see how excited they become as all the events unfold. That enthusiasm becomes infectious. Before long, entire families, including adults, are excited too! Most of us can remember our childhood being enhanced with the coming of Christmas. The Christmas season brings out the child in all of us. 

As an elementary school teacher, I have worked with children for many years. It has always been a great source of pleasure for me to see children exploring all the customs of the season. Especially gratifying is when our young people come to know the real meaning of Christmas. During the years that I taught overseas, I can recall the joy of coming home to Houston to be part of family gatherings. Most of these times were spent at church-related activities such as beautiful musical programs and meaningful services at South Main. 

I am reminded of a story I once heard that really encompasses the meaning of the season. An eight-year-old boy named Joey lived in a low income housing development in a large city. Church buses made periodic runs through Joey’s neighborhood to gather up children for Sunday school and other special events. On one particular occasion, some very special people invited Joey to a party at their church. Joey only had fifteen minutes to get dressed or the bus would have to leave without him. Joey, exploding with excitement, ran home and told his mother, “There’s a party at the big church this afternoon, and I’m invited!” What Joey didn’t know was that the party at the church was a Christmas party. Unfortunately, Joey assumed the party was for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Hurriedly, Joey went to work on his outfit. Fifteen minutes wasn’t much time and he was painfully aware that his funds were even more limited than his time. Joey rummaged through all kinds of stacks of things and finally thought, “Why not go as a haystack?” He took his old brown sweatshirt and stuffed it with weeds. He even put some of the straw on the outside of the sweatshirt, just to make it look more real. 

Joey was more than surprised when he arrived at the party. It seems he was invited to a Christmas play - not a costume party! Embarrassed he hung around the fringes of the group. Then, all of a sudden, he heard one of the leaders say that they couldn’t find the manger. “Can I help?” he asked. “I’m good at finding things.” The leaders explained to Joey what they were looking for was a box full of hay where they could lay baby Jesus. It appeared that someone had misplaced it. How could they have a Bethlehem without a manger? 

Forgetting his embarrassment, Joey, now feel resourceful, looked down at his costume. His baggy brown sweatshirt was stuffed with weeds and it had straw sticking out of everywhere. He thought, “I could be a box of hay.” He lay down on the floor and announced, “I’ll be your manger. Let Jesus be born in me.” 

In conclusion, and as Joey’s beautiful story suggests, we can all say, “Let Jesus be born in me, too, O God!” 

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