When I was in the second grade, I memorized the first 20 verses of the second chapter of Luke and recited it before the class to win a prize. I think the prize was a bunch of Santa Claus pencils and a few pieces of candy. It’s been more than 40 years since that day, so I cannot be expected to remember that detail.
Now, all these years later, I realize that, like so many other things in life, the real prize was what I learned. In fact, to this day, I can recite the 349 words of the passage, although I will confess that I get stuck a few places and have to cheat a little.
One of the things that I’ve always wondered about is how the shepherds found the baby Jesus to begin with. All they were told is, “Ye shall find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’’
Even though Bethlehem was not a big town, they didn’t really have much to go on. It would be the equivalent of trying to find a single family in a whole subdivision.
Although the account of the Magi is found in Matthew rather than the passage I committed to memory all those long years ago, a similar conundrum arises. According to Matthew, the Magi located the Christ child by following a star, which came to rest above the town of Bethlehem. Again, it seems like pretty vague directions. I cannot imagine you would be able to figure out a specific residence based on the position of a star. It occurs to me that the star of Bethlehem was the first known use of a GPS system, although not a very precise model.
Those curiosities aside, the important fact is that both the shepherds and the Magi found the Christ child.
I think it is interesting to note that, in the accounts of the Nativity, it is just as important to note not only who found the baby Jesus, but who didn’t. That would be Herod, who sought the child with as much zeal as the shepherds or the Magi but with far different motives.
Ever since, people have been looking for him and the success or failure of those efforts, I believe, rests on the intent of the seeker.
This reminds me of when my two kids were little. One of their favorite games to play with Dad was hide-and-seek.
I was always careful to hide in such a way that I could be easily found, of course. Getting “found’’ was the fun part of the game, after all.
So I would hide behind the curtains with my shoes sticking out prominently underneath, maybe rustling the curtains a bit for good measure.
When they found me I would feign shock. “How did you find me?’’ I would ask in mock frustration, and they would laugh and shout and demand that I hide once more so they could find me all over again.
I have a feeling it’s the same way with God. He is easy to find, only because he wants to be found. I am sure His heart bursts with loving affection when his children find him, for the joy it produces.
For those who have sought and found him, Christmas is always a time that we find in our spirits the irrepressible urge to “find him all over again.’’
“Seek and ye shall find,’’ Jesus once said.
So, with the chaos and confusion and the frenzy that generally goes with Christmas, I hope that you will find the opportunity to play the game that fathers love to play with their children.
He’ll be easy to find, of course.
He always has been.