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A new ‘what if?’

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013 1:05 p.m. CDT

“I’ve got a play for our Christmas program, Miss Linda! I wrote it myself!”

Shelly could hardly contain herself. It was the first gathering of children and youths to plan parts for the upcoming Christmas program.

“Miss Linda” had already met with the pastor, and together they’d selected the program. She’d called on volunteer adults to help with building the set, Bethlehem, of course, getting the costumes together. Biblical time period costumes, of course. And, thinking through which young person might be best for each role — Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds.

“That’s nice, Shelly. But, you know, we’ve already got the play picked out for this year, honey. Maybe we could look at it for next year, OK?”

At that response, eight-year-old Shelly’s face scrunched into a fierce frown.

“But, Miss Linda, don’t we want Jesus to come here this Christmas? He always comes to Beth-lee-hem, but when my grandpa read the Bible story last week, he told me John, I think he’s Jesus’ best friend, really said Jesus moved into our neighborhood when He came from heaven. Grandpa and me, we built a ‘Jesus-tent’ right in our yard. It’s got a Jesus-cradle bed and a cross, too! ‘Cause that’s why He came, right Miss Linda?”

“Sure, Shelly. But that’s what our Christmas program’s all about every year, too. Jesus coming right here to earth.”

Linda began to shuffle papers and get people’s attention so the, now late, planning and practice meeting could begin. Not to be turned down so easily, as soon as the room got quiet, Shelly cleared her throat loudly.

“But what if Jesus pitched his tent at the grocery store? What then? Or, maybe where my mom works, or on the soccer field where my brother plays? What then?”

Instant conversation. Instant loss of control for Linda. Soon everyone from the youngest child to the oldest adult was discussing the possibilities. What if Jesus pitched a tent at the post office? In the middle of the mall? In the airport? The potential tent-pitching locations were endless!

Linda pulled Shelly aside. “OK Shelly,” she began, with a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, “What do you have in mind?”

Shelly straightened up to the tallest three-foot-eight she could muster.

“Well, we could do what I did to write this.”

Shelly held out a neatly handwritten script.

“This is what my grandpa, my brother and me wrote for our family. We could do the same thing for our church. It’d be so much fun.”

That’s how the unique Christmas program “Jesus on Location” began. It was a series of short scenes depicting what might happen if Jesus really did “pitch His tent” in these modern everyday places.

They ended up performing the play in at least eight neighboring churches, in addition to their own as requests came pouring in. At last count, there were churches in six states who had adapted the idea for their own Christmas programs.

The Greek word that is translated as “dwelt among us” literally means “to pitch one’s tent among.”

What would it be like to have Jesus literally “pitch His tent” in your neighborhood? Scripture doesn’t say Jesus “pitched his tent” for a few days and then left. My prayer for you is that you allow Jesus the Christ to “pitch His tent” in your life – every day, everywhere, and in every company you keep.

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