We don’t put anything out in our yard for the Christmas season. Our family simply enjoys the decor in other people’s yards. Years ago when I was living in St. Louis someone had a little too much fun with the holiday décor in the yard of the Laspe family. I don't’ know them, but it was a fun enough Christmas story that it made the local news.
When the Ted Laspe went to pack away his Christmas decorations post-holiday, someone was missing. The most important part of Christmas was missing—Jesus. In his place in the well warn yard crèche the family set up every year was a note; “Dear Ted. On vacation. Be back Christmas Eve 1994.” Over the next several months Ted and his wife Liz received post-cards from Jesus touring all over the United States, often with photos of the babe in front of notable landmarks. From South Padre Island, Texas to Juneau, Alaska. The vacation took him all over the country. On Christmas Eve the following year a cab driver delivered the baby Jesus to the front door of the Laspe home with a pink suitcase filled with souvenirs from across the country.
The Laspe family had no idea who the mastermind behind that year-long tour was but they sure enjoyed their regular updates from Jesus.
The last night Jesus was cross he said to them repeatedly, “I am going away, and I will come to you” (John 14:28), “with his disciples before he went to the A little while and you will see me no longer, and again a little while and you will see me” (John 16:16), and “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father” (John 16:28).
It’s not that Jesus is on vacation. He has a job; he’s at the right hand of majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3) reigning over all things (Hebrews 2:8). Yet he has promised to come back AND in the mean time we are receiving regular messages from him. We know who’s orchestrating that. Jesus told us, “The helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26) and “When the Spirit of truth comes... he will take from what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-14).
It’s more than postcards and pictures that the Spirit gives us; the whole content of the scriptures are inspired by him to give us snapshots of what Jesus is up to and where he is at work in this world. The real question is, are we paying attention? Are we watching for those updates on Jesus that the Spirit is sending to us regularly.
Of course the alternative is what most people do every year, when no one plays a year-long Christmas prank with the baby Jesus, we simply put away the decorations after Christmas and forget about them until next season. The Laspe’s baby Jesus is a good little encouragement for us to stay attentive to Jesus all year long. If you’ve not been doing that or if you’ve been “lapse” in doing so, this Advent season is a good time to start.
By the way, just to finish the story. Ted Laspe died in October of 1994, a few months before Jesus was returned. Yet he died a firm believer in the real Jesus. The baby Jesus even sent a note to his widow, Liz, saying “Ted got settled in. He’s fine. See you soon. Love Jesus.”
That last line is what every Advent season is all about. “See you soon, love Jesus.” (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 & Revelation 22:20)