(This is a story Sister Waddoups wrote last year at Christmas time.)
The Missing Christ Child
I love nativity sets and have collected them from all over the world. Last October we were in Portugal attending the Mission President’s Seminar. While there I purchased a small nativity set to add to my collection. It was unlike any other nativity set I have. Mary and Joseph were standing at the base of a tree trunk. A branch extended from the trunk and had a piece of twine that hung over the branch with a Baby Jesus lying on a star at the end of it. The clerk carefully wrapped the nativity set in bubble wrap and put it in a box so it wouldn’t get broken on the airplane ride home.
Upon arriving back in Rome, I opened the box and unwrapped the nativity set only to find the figurine of the Baby Jesus wasn’t in the box. I searched in the suitcase and in my purse to see if it had accidentally been misplaced. No luck. The Baby Jesus was nowhere to be found. Without the Baby Jesus, the nativity set had lost it’s meaning. It was incomplete. A nativity set without the Christ Child just wasn’t the same. Instead of making me happy, it made me sad.
I felt really bad about not having a complete nativity. In some ways I mourned the loss of the little figurine.
A few days later my husband asked why I didn’t just buy another little Baby Jesus figurine and tie it onto the branch to replace the missing one. I knew there was no way I would be able to replace the exact figurine, but I started looking for a replacement. It had to be just perfect or it wouldn’t look right.
I saw a Baby Jesus figurine in a store window soon after and purchased it in the hopes it would work. It was too big. I saw another one a few days later and bought it. It was too small. I continued to watch for just the right figurine. I bought several and none of them was exactly right. I realized there is just no substitute for the real thing.
As I was pondering the plight of the missing Baby Jesus, it suddenly dawned on me how very important the real Jesus Christ is in my life. I am happy and content because I know Him personally. I can’t see Him. I can’t physically hear Him. But I know He is near. I know He hears me when I pray and that He answers my prayers.
Serving in the mission field, I see people on a daily basis who have lost something in their lives or know there is something missing that they just can’t find. Just like my desire to put the Christ Child back in my nativity set, they desire something. They continually search for that thing that is missing in their lives. Many times they go from religion to religion trying to find the perfect fit. When they find that something is Jesus, they find true happiness.
I see people who once had the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives and then lost their testimonies. Their lives are incomplete and they really struggle, most of the time not realizing why they struggle. When they regain their testimony, they are so grateful to have found Jesus in their lives again.
We all need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We all need to come to the same realization I did.
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the Christ Child.
It is our prayer that this Christmas season you will recognize the importance of the Christ Child in your own life and share that knowledge with the people of Italy as you strive to help them Come Unto Christ.
Merry Christmas. We love each of you.
Presidente and Sorella Waddoups