One Missing from the Nativity Scene

Start playing One Missing from the Nativity Scene by clicking on the red arrow.

Today’s slice of the bread of life, the Word of God, comes from Mark 1:1-8:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

A three-year-old was helping his mother unpack their nativity set. He announced each piece as he unwrapped it from the tissue paper. “Here’s the donkey!” he said. “Here’s a king and a camel!”  When he finally got to the tiny infant lying in a manger he proclaimed, “Here’s baby Jesus in his car seat!”

Well, it wasn’t a car seat, but that would be an easy mistake to make, wouldn’t it?

We all love nativity scenes. Baby Jesus in the manger…Mary and Joseph hovering reverently over the holy child…shepherds, wise men, assorted cattle, sheep and camels…and, of course, a donkey.

In The Preacher’s Magazine, Rev. Deric Acre said,

“There is always one person missing from these nativity scenes, correct me if I am wrong, for I imagine that collectively we have seen a tremendous amount of Christmas displays. So if you have found him somewhere, please let me know. But have you ever seen John the Baptist in any of the nativity scenes? He would be this hairy, unkempt, wild-looking guy wearing camel’s hair. There would be a piece of locust caught between his teeth and dried honey in his beard. Louder than any Santa says, ‘Ho, ho, ho,’ you would hear the automated voice of John the Baptist screaming, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’”

Have any of you ever noticed a figure like that in any of the nativity scenes that are traditional to our celebration of Christmas?  At least, I’ve never seen a nativity scene featuring John the Baptist. Yet, during the Advent Season we always encounter this strange lonely figure sounding his message out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord”…

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