In our never-ending attempts to wear out our two year old, we took a family outing tonight. We went on a picnic in downtown Davie, where the city offices are covered in thousands and thousands of twinkly Christmas lights.
After finishing our food, Will decided he wanted to run and be chased. He ran down the lighted path, switching from concrete to grass to mulch and back to concrete. He ran around the giant tree, which in its hundreds of years of life has never been circled by so much joy as fills Will when he runs and us as we chase him. He ran past dozens of Christmas trees and brightly lit menorahs. And then he passed a manger scene.
Except, he didn't exactly pass the manger scene. He stopped and counted the 7 animals and said hello to Baby Jesus.
Then he started running again. Concrete, grass, mulch, concrete, giant tree, Christmas tree, Christmas tree, Christmas tree, menorah ... and then he stopped. Back at the manger. He waved to Baby Jesus and waited for us to catch our breath. Then, he was off again.
In some ways, this is what we do every Christmas. We race through our year, joyfully flipping pages on our calendar, January, February, March, concrete, giant tree, Christmas tree, menorah ... and then we stop. We pause at a manger. We remember Jesus. We encounter Jesus. We complement Jesus on his beautiful diaper (as Will did). Then, we're off again.
It's tempting to berate ourselves in this season, wishing we remembered Jesus more frequently, thought about him more as we run laps beneath the lights. It's tempting to roll our eyes at the image of a tiny infant 8 pounds 6 ounce cuddly and omnipotent Jesus, wishing more people thought of him as a grown man. There's a lot we'd like to change about our spirituality and our culture.
But it's a beautiful thing to stop when you get to Jesus. To pause there.
If you do find yourself encountering Jesus at any point in your headlong dash through your calendar or through the holiday season, I would encourage you to pause there. Ask how he's connected to the rest of this. Ask what he's doing in that manger. Complement him on his beautiful diaper. Don't just run by.
How are you stopping by Jesus this week? What does that look like for you?