Saturday, December 09, 2006

Baby Jesus Stolen, Replaced With Beer Can

Nearly 30 years ago Bob Chooljain engaged in a special project with his small children. They made a Nativity scene with their own hands. Through all of these years the Chooljain family has placed their Nativity scene in their front yard during the month of December as a lighted Christmas display in the hopes of spreading some inspiration and cheer.

Yesterday someone came to the Plaistow, NH home and stole the baby Jesus. We’ve heard that story dozens of times through the years. In fact, eight years ago the Chooljains had one of the three wise men stolen. Pranks like that have been around for a long time. What was so disturbing to this family was that an empty beer can was placed in the manger where the baby Jesus lay. Bob’s comment was, “You just wonder, what was in the person’s mind that actually did that? Why leave the beer can?”

The small town story struck me at a deeper level. The Bible teaches that God creates us with a hole in our heart that can only be legitimately filled with a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s like we are each a “Nativity scene” with an empty manger at the center of our being. The question then is, “Will I exercise faith and place Jesus at the center of my being or will I place a ‘beer can’ there?”

The picture of a beer can perfectly depicts the inadequate, empty and even profane nature of anything else we would place at the center of our lives. A stellar career or stunning achievements or an intoxicating relationship are all “beer cans”. Good deeds, morality and even orthodoxy are “beer cans” when they are replacements for Christ.

The Christmas story is about God loving us so much that He came to us for relationship. Your story is either about responding to God’s pursuit with life engagement, or your story is the oft repeated sad “beer can” tale of godless existence.

I pray that Jesus is found and that Jesus is at the center of your “Nativity scene” this season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think my "beer can" is often self-addiction. Looking back at my childhood, I now realize how American culture encourages its children that "the harder you work, the more you can receive"; along the lines of the American dream. We are programmed to do everything we can to better ourselves. Meaning better cars, toys, friends, income, etc.

I think you've made a great point even beyond the Christmas celebration in that we center our lives around our own desires instead of His. I can see how Christmas has lost a great deal of its meaning with so many of us.