The line began to form shortly after noon, just after an early, abbreviated Thanksgiving lunch. After all, in order to the “deals” when the store opens at 8:00, I must get there early. It will be so worth the hours of loitering in front of the commercial evidence that “the holidays” have again arrived. Oh, how much I will save on all those things I really “have to have”.
The line formed rapidly, soon growing well past the wide and welcoming store front, continuing beyond the corner of the building. Conversations are struck with total strangers. Soon we find that common theme – this line is for the “things” the holidays have grown to represent. When the doors finally open we all hurry quickly to fill our carts with the “stuff” before it is all gone.
As I near the middle of the store I notice that another line has formed. This one is filled with excited parents and armfuls of little children (not all so excited). Of course, it is the line to see Santa. As I stop to watch, I hear Moms and Dads instructing their children in the ritual of Santa obsession. “Make sure to smile so we can take your picture with Santa”, “don’t pull on his beard”, “tell him what you want for Christmas”, and many more words of wisdom imparted from one generation to another.
Having seen enough of this Santa pilgrimage I move on to one of the remote aisles, where I pass a display of a nativity scene. It is a small display, with a cow, donkey, sheep, two shepherds (we know them by the crooks in their hands), a young woman, a young man, and a really small baby in a hay trough. Something about the little baby catches my attention. This is a representation of the baby Jesus who, as the story goes, was sent by God. I think to myself “what a strange way for Him to enter the world.” Here He was, a part of God Himself, sent down from Heaven to be born on Earth, grow up to become a preacher, then ultimately die (on a cross no less) to save the world from sin.
I remember the story of how the one and only Son of God was presented to the world. It says that an angel of God appeared to the shepherd in the field near where Jesus had been born. The angel told them, he had “Good news of great joy that will be for all people”. Then, as I remember the story, suddenly the whole night sky was filled with countless angels praising God and honoring this baby boy.
As I stood there considering the little baby I glanced up and down the aisle; it was empty. As I thought about the long line waiting to see Santa, I couldn’t help but think “where is the line to see Jesus?”