Monday, December 7, 2009

A Boy Discovering Jesus

This is George listening to and reading a book about the birth of Jesus. I found this book with a tape and George sits in this chair several times every day with the book and the tape. George is discovering Jesus.

When Joe and I were in Ethiopia, we took George to a store to purchase some gifts for our friends. We were looking for hand carved crosses that were made by leprosy patients, so we had a very specific store in mind. When we got there, we started looking for the crosses and I remember Joe taking George to a different room in the store during our hunt. I wasn't in the room, but Joe tells me the story of George reacting to a cross they found with Jesus hanging on it - like a crucifix. George said "Jesus" in a whisper. Joe asked him, "Do you know Jesus?" And George motioned to his hands, communicating to us that he knew that Jesus' hands had been pierced.

We knew then that George had some knowledge of Jesus. As the months went by, whenever we talked about Jesus, George made motions and said words that led us to believe that he had seen a passion play in his village. George knew there were "bad men" (Roman soldiers) who hurt Jesus. He acted out men whipping Jesus and then would pretend like he was pounding nails into his hands. That alone was George's image of Jesus.

A man who was beaten and then crucified. For George...the story began and ended there. George doesn't know about the teachings of Jesus or the miracles her performed. And, he doesn't know that Jesus rose from the dead!! But what we are being confronted with now is how George has never even heard about Jesus' birth.

We have asked George if he knows what Christmas is and he will get very quiet, so I just don't have an idea about what he may have done in Ethiopia to celebrate the day. I do know that this little boy has fallen in love with baby Jesus. George is baby-crazy as it is, but when we told him that these pictures and figurines are of a baby Jesus, he was delighted. Every picture, every nativity set we see now, George runs to it and searches for baby Jesus. Then he says, "Oh, there is my baby Jesus. I love him."

Every time, this sentence causes me to pause, and usually well up with tears. What a reaction for a child to have! There is MY Jesus...I love him. George grew up knowing that someone named Jesus suffered and died, and now he is getting the first part of the greatest story, the birth of that man. George knows this man will die, and he sees this baby and wants to love him.

Funny, he asked me why baby Jesus is always naked. He asked, "Baby Jesus not cold?"

We took George to a live nativity Saturday night. It was perfect! A simple little fifteen minute story telling with live animals and actors in great costumes. Mary and Joseph came riding in on a donkey and George was so excited...baby Jesus is coming! When the Mary reached down and picked up a doll baby wrapped in a white blanket, George squealed, "There is my baby Jesus!" We all giggled and said, "It's a doll." But he wouldn't hear of it. After the story was over, we were invited into the church for cookies and hot cocoa, but before going inside, George wanted to see the baby. Mary laughed and said, "Well, he's just a doll." But it was as if George didn't hear those words at all and said, "No, my baby Jesus is sleeping."

What love!

I wonder if we shouldn't teach all our children about Jesus in the order that George has been taught? This man will be punished, will suffer, will die....for YOU. Get that message in their brains and then introduce them to the tiny baby born in a humble stable and see the love the pours out of the children. That is MY baby Jesus lying there, and I know what is going to happen, so I will love him all the more now.

What love!

1 comment:

psalm20v4 said...

That is the most precious story I've ever heard. I want to be in love with the baby Jesus just like George. I once heard someone say that our American Christianity is more American than it is Christian. That little guy traveled a very long way to teach all of us comfortable Americans some very important lessons. What a tremendous blessing to see Christmas anew this year, through the eyes of George. Give him a squeeze for me. (And squeeze yourself for me too!)