The invitation of Baby Jesus is for always

In searching for the Christmas story to share I came across a gem that had me in tears twice before I finally decided this was the one! 

In 1994 two Americans were invited by the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics. One of their groups included boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in a government-run orphanage. 

The two told the children about Mary and Joseph, the stable, and Jesus placed in a manger. The children listened intently. They then gave the children three small pieces of cardboard, to make a manger, and a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins. Supplies were limited. 

Following instructions, the children tore the paper into strips which they laid in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel were used for the baby's blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt brought from the United States.

The orphans busily assembled their manger. In the words of the instructor, “I walked among them to see if they needed any help. Little Misha, who was about six years old had finished his project. As I looked at the manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.” 

With the translator’s help, Misha told his story. When he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger, Misha started to ad-lib, creating his own ending to the story: "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay. 

“Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.

“So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him---for always."

As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him – for always. (Author Unknown)

When we meet Jesus on the last day, we will be judged on how we treated those in need. How we treat the least of our brothers and sisters, that is how we treat Jesus (Matthew 25:40). Like Misha, we need to do what we can for the orphans and refugees?

Picture a mother fleeing death and destruction in her country and walking with her child into the hostile world we see on our news channels. “You are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners.” (Deuteronomy 10: 18-19)

(568 words)

By Ken Rolheiser