“Hi, Jesus!” You can hear my daughter’s voice greet Jesus everytime we pass a nativity scene. Whether playing with our Little People Nativity, walking our neighborhood, or driving the town’s streets, anytime we see a nativity, my daughter’s voice chimes in: “Hi, Jesus!”
We like to take walks in our family and our path takes us right by the church where Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the angel, and a host of animals have been on display for over a month. The other day on our walk Jesus and his family were no longer on display. Along with many homes and churches, the start of Epiphany brought the close of Christmas and a goodbye to trees and nativities.
“Uh oh, Jesus!” I hear my daughter exclaim.
“Where did Jesus go?” I ask her.
“Over there!” she shouts and points her finger across the street.
“Over there?” I ask and point along.
“Yes, over there!” And she points in another direction.
And with those words we go on our walk. The conversation turns to what we see and hear. But I keep thinking about her response to where Jesus went.
She’s 4 and doesn’t know what happened to the nativity and Jesus. She just knows that it’s gone. But I love how she just expects him to be over there. To her 4-year-old mind he’s not where he has been, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone. He’s just over there somewhere.
I like that thought too: that even though I can’t really see Jesus or touch him or talk to him, I know he’s still here. I feel his love in worship. I experience his goodness through loving my neighbors. I taste and touch his grace in bread and wine.
Everytime we walked during Advent and Christmas seeing Jesus always brought a greeting from my daughter. Yet, I can teach my children that we can see Jesus all over this world. That Jesus meets us in our neighborhoods, in schools, and at work. The actual pictures and physical reminders of Jesus are important and needed, but we also have one another to point us to Jesus’ presence in our midst. We have a neighbor’s smile and invitation to sit with them on the porch. We have a friend’s shoulder to cry on. We have someone to carry our groceries. We have water, bread, and wine. We have Jesus who meets us as much in the craziness of our days as in the silence of our nights. We have Jesus who listens to believers and doubters.
That’s what we have this season of Epiphany to really remember and believe: Jesus is with us always. I’ll keep walking with my family and encouraging my children to see Jesus. Trusting and believing that his presence never leaves us.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website: http://kimberlyknowlezeller.com or follow her work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyKnowleZeller/