I say I tried to pack it up, because when I was gathering up the pieces, I couldn't find Jesus. Everybody else was present and accounted for. Mary, Joseph, 3 wise guys, 4 animals. Not Jesus. He was nowhere to be found.
This happened last year, too. Last year, Jesus was missing for about 6 months. I think I finally found him behind the stereo (and there was much rejoicing). Bubby's been playing with the Nativity and Jesus is his favorite. So Jesus gets picked up and put down in the oddest places. The bathroom, the kitchen floor, the fireplace, between the couch cushions...
I had seen Jesus just yesterday, so I knew he had to be nearby, and I was looking around for him, a little annoyed that he was not in the manger where he should be.
That's just like us, isn't it? We want Jesus to stay in the manger. Baby Jesus is so cute and cuddly, and it's such a warm and fuzzy story (although honestly, think about it. What's warm and fuzzy about giving birth in a barn?), sanitized for the masses to feel good about.
We fail to remember that yes, Jesus was born, and that's what we celebrate at Christmas, but that's not really what Christmas is about. It's really about God's plan for our salvation. That's where this is all heading. Christmas isn't the end, it's the beginning. Or, more accurately, Christmas is the continuation of a story that began before time. Jesus was born in a manger, yes, but he was never meant to stay there.
We want Jesus to stay where we put him. We invite Jesus in to our lives, but don't tell him to make himself at home. We compartmentalize our lives, our selves, and we expect to Jesus to stay where we put him. In his little box. Where we can control when and where and how he gets out.
But Jesus is so much bigger than that. Jesus cannot, will not, be contained. But Jesus also will not go where he is not welcomed. He will end up in the oddest places, where you'd never expect him, in a sewer, in the heart of an addict, under a bridge warming his hands over an oil barrel fire, behind bars in a prison. But you won't find him in the boxes we try to put him in.
This wasn't the first time Jesus went missing. Remember that time in Jerusalem? When his mom thought he was with his dad and his dad thought he was with his mom? Jesus has a habit of not being where we humans think he should be.