MISSING THE GUEST OF HONOR
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2)
There’s a story that has become legend in a small Minnesota town. I can’t vouch for its truth, only that people tell it as though it really happened. It seems that the retiring mayor was to be honored at a party as he left office. He had been responsible for a number of significant improvements to the town, so it seemed good to have the community pay tribute.
The party was held at the VFW hall, and all agreed it was a great celebration. The music was loud, the room crowded and noisy. The finger food was unusual in its quality and liquid refreshment flowed without restraint until late into the evening. Over coffee the next morning in the Main Street diner, someone wondered aloud if the mayor had enjoyed it, but no one knew. No one in the diner had talked to him or had even seen him there. Only later did they learn that the mayor had checked into a hospital the previous day and had missed the party in his honor. Apparently no one had noticed.
It sounds a lot like Christmas. People get together, the food is great, the music warms the heart, but has anyone seen the guest of honor? The season has become about us, our menus, our travel plans, our expenses. We’ve lost perspective. Our celebration will be more authentic if our hopes are not only for good sales figures but also for good will among mankind. Christ will be seen among us if our prayers are not only for peace in travel but also for peace on earth.
Our church set out its nativity scene the other day. Life-sized figures of all the familiar characters are in place, kneeling around the manger all but one. Seems the baby Jesus is missing. We couldn’t find him this year. Mary and Joseph and the Wise Men are gazing reverently at some wisps of straw.
Sign of the times. Hopefully the Christ child will be found by Christmas.