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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Missing Jesus
By Ann Grover


I stared at the window display, watching the toy train disappear into the tunnel, while elves repeated their sawing motion and reindeer perpetually pranced in fake snow. Scarfed skaters spun dizzily on mirror ice. The train chugged into view again, stopping at the station, while the conductor waved at passengers piled high with gaily coloured packages.

An idyllic scene, created to lure passersby into the store, hopefully to gather their Christmas purchases from the laden shelves within. It was worth a try, I thought, since Id not bought anything yet, and it was already late into December.

I rummaged in my pocket for change for the red kettle swinging by the door; jingle bells would ring guiltily in my ears for hours if I didnt. The attendant was convincingly sporting a white beard, all the more likely to convict me to give.

The aisles were festooned with garlands of tinsel, looped and swooped in sparkling swags. Smiling mannequins dressed in charming winter garb invited customers to browse through the merchandise on tightly stacked shelving.

Id never find what I wanted. I didnt need much, but the high gondolas of goods were nearly impossible to navigate, not likely to relinquish any tokens of affection for my friends and family. I felt pressed in on every side by teetering boxes of teapots, towers of towels, and cases of cookies.

A small figurine caught my eye. It was attractive, colourful. A possibility. Alas, it was plastic or resin or some other cheap counterfeit. Where would I find the real thing?

I passed a bubblegum-coloured aisle that threatened to give me a migraine, and narrowly escaped being knocked over by a youth on a skateboard. He was being pursued by a screaming princess on a flaming purple bicycle; her tiara was askew, her feather boa was streaming behind her. I wondered if Santa Claus was aware of their antics and if his pencil was stalling over their names. If the nonchalant woman with the full cart in the next aisle was their mother, I guessed not.

I flipped through a few picture books, admiring the arresting designs and attractive hues. The stories were nondescript, however, and lacking in content. I set them back on the shelf.

I did choose some crystal glasses, although they seemed a bit overpriced. They were beautiful, no doubt about that. So were the imported linens Id selected. Finely done, exquisite. I knew theyd be appreciated.

Somewhere, a baby wailed, echoing my sentiments exactly. Probably the little one was overtired, overheated, and hungry. I glanced at my watch. Where had an hour gone? I could do with some refreshment myself.

Certain that there was a cappuccino bar somewhere on the premises, I walked the stores perimeter, wary of skateboarders and cyclists. I marvelled at the number of overflowing carts I saw that were filled with toys and cakes, decorations and appliances. No one seemed particularly pleased with their acquisitions, however, as they peered over their mountains, steering their way to the winding line-ups at the cashiers. Rather, they looked grey-faced and defeated.

I enjoyed my drink and the friendly atmosphere in the coffee bar. Time was passing, though, and I needed to complete my purchases. But, coffee. There was an idea. I bought some packets of gourmet coffee, along with a few fancy mugs from the display area, pleased with my stroke of genius.

I found a few more items and proceeded to a long queue to wait my turn. Ahead of me, a woman was arguing with a salesperson about the price of poinsettias, another person was asking for help with a Christmas tree, and another wanted to know if there was any more outdoor lights.

It was then I saw the nativity set on a clearance shelf. A sign declared, 75% Off. Underneath, was penciled in, Jesus is Missing.

Mary and Joseph were gazing forlornly at an empty manger. Shepherds were holding tiny lambs aloft towards vacant space, and wise men were bestowing their riches on nothingness.

I considered the vexation and bother around me, the volumes of gifts, the joyless faces. I thought of my own frustration and discontent. It all made sense.

Finding an empty box on the shelf, I quickly gathered up the discounted nativity set. Id found the missing piece to my Christmas.

The manger would remain empty, but Jesus was not missing any more.

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This article has been read 1138 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Clyde Blakely03/08/07
I like the analogy. Well written. Thank you and God bless.
Marilee Alvey03/10/07
This was a showcase of talented description. You could set up shop teaching this! Ahhh....the emptiness of a commecial Christmas. The ending was poignant, as well. Good job!
Jan Ackerson 03/11/07
Amazing! I love your subtle use of alliteration here and there, and your spot-on characterization of commercial Christmas. And when I got to the reason for the discounted manger scene, it literally took my breath away. How you could put such depth of meaning into 3 short words!
Leigh MacKelvey03/11/07
The descritptions ... ahhh ...
such delight!
I felt drab and frustrated along with the shoppers. You showed hiw Jesus was missing in well chosen words!
Elizabeth Baize03/12/07
Your descriptions are beautiful! They took me right into the shop. I especially like your descriptions using alliteration, and you brought home a powerful point as well.
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
Love the colorful writing in this story. Love the pov of the missing Jesus. Good example.
Allison Egley 03/12/07
This is very good, and an all too real portrayal of Christmas in our society. Nice job.
Cassie Memmer03/12/07
I loved the alliteration and the message. Very well written. Thought provoking. Good job!
Rita Garcia03/12/07
Great insight, and your message is one to be taken to heart. Creative take on the topic, and well written.
william price03/13/07
Just when I thought you couldn't hammer the point any further, you wrote "Jesus is missing". The perfect image, for such a sad editorial. I also felt the baby crying line was beyond superb. You are a true blessing Ann Grover, who ever you are:) I might quit writing here one day, but I will never stop coming back to read your work. God bless.
Joanne Sher 03/13/07
Your description is masterfully vivid, as always - and an amazing lesson as well. Wonderful.
TJ Nickel03/13/07
This is definitely masterful writing. The descriptions are perfect, the tone of the piece is terrific, and the introduction of the title was breathtaking.
Having said all of that, and reminding myself of your masterful writing and you of how much I like this, I thought you should have left the nativity set on the shelf, as it symbolized the place and belonged there with Jesus Missing.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/07
Ooh! I liked this. You did a great job with capturing the bustle and fast-pace of holiday shopping. I liked the bit with the princess on a bicycle and the kid on the skateboard, a hilarious but realistic touch. The ending was like honey-ginger tea. Sweet and mild, with a little kick after you swallow. Great writing! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/13/07
I think this is the best I've read this week! Poetically written with a powerful meaning!
Sandra Petersen 03/14/07
Excellent descriptions, and I am one who likes to visualize the scene in my mind as I read, not focus on action and dialogue. Beautiful way of conveying a timeless message, appropriate really, if we were honest, at any time of the year: Jesus is missing.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 03/14/07
Totally relate ...too many Christmases I've felt the same. Great story telling. thanks
Joanne Malley03/14/07
That was definitely spot on for the way I feel as I shop at Christmastime. Jesus IS missing. Congrats on a very nicely written piece. Blessings, Jo
Brenda Welc03/14/07
Loved your piece. Christams is such a magical time I felt it while reading your article--thanks for making Jesus a part of it.
Sharlyn Guthrie03/14/07
Your story is a true portrait of the Christmas season. You captured it well. Nice job!
Julie Arduini03/14/07
I just loved this. The message is spot on without being overpowering. The descriptions are breathtaking. You took this theme and ran with it, great job!
Catrina Bradley 03/15/07
Sara Harricharan 03/15/07
Congratulations on your Highly Commended! ^_^