“What are you still doing here?”
The young boy had been hanging around the church nativity scene for days. John, who served as the church groundskeeper of the big city church, hadn’t told anyone about the youngster. He just came out each day, sat on the bench with him and shared his lunch with the boy.
But John did wonder, "Where did he come from? Where did he live?"
Whenever John asked him, the answer was the same.
“Name’s Leroy.” Then he’d shrug his skinny shoulders and take a bite, or look away or change the subject – whatever it took to get off that topic.
John sat down on the bench in the church courtyard next to the nativity scene and opened his lunch. He’d taken to packing an extra large one these last few weeks, looking forward to his time with Leroy.
As John approached the courtyard, he saw Leroy waiting by the bench, waving at him.
“Hey John, what day is it today?”
John reached the bench and began to sit down.
Seemed like strange question for a boy who didn’t seem to have a job or be in school.
“No, not what day – what’s the date? How long till Jesus comes?”
Good thing John hadn’t taken a bite yet, because it would have fallen right out of his mouth.
“Till Jesus comes? Why, nobody knows when He’s coming back again.”
What could Leroy really mean?
Leroy looked at John as he too sat on the bench. John silently handed him a sandwich, waiting for his answer. Now it was Leroy’s turn to look amazed. John had never seen his eyes so big.
“Well, doesn’t He come at Christmas? I mean, like these statues here. There’s his mamma, and his earth-daddy, right? And there’s the baby bed – manger, right?”
John nodded. Right so far, but….
“So baby Jesus should get here Dec. 25, right? So, I’m hanging out right here. I want to meet Him when He comes.”
John had known better than to take a bite yet. What do you say to that?
“Leroy, there are lots of these nativity scenes, all over the city. Why do you think He’ll come to this one?”
“Well, it’s like this: My old mom – the one I had ‘til July – told me my first mom left me right here at this church, right there at Joseph’s feet. My old mom – her name was Beth — told me my first mom said if Joseph couldn’t take care of me, no one could, and besides, when Jesus came on Christmas, I’d have an awesome brother!”
All John could do was nod. He thought, "What do I know? I’m just the gardener."
John was still trying to figure out all the relatives Leroy suddenly seemed to have. He opened his mouth to ask, then thought better and took a bite of his sandwich instead, nodding at Leroy to continue.
“And John, well, I’ve been a lot of places with a lot of moms, dads, sisters, and brothers, but I’ve finally made my way back here.”
With that, Leroy opened a pocket of his backpack and pulled a Bible out.
“I learned how to read, because my second mom told me then I’d be able to read all about my first dad — that’d be Joseph over there — his wife — that’d be Mary over there — and best of all my brother Jesus. So this book here says Jesus was at the church, they called them temples then, I guess, when He was eight days old, then again when He was 12. Well, I’m 12 today — I think — so I’m back here to see. Is Jesus real?”
Those two old people – Anna and Simeon I think were their names – they waited a really long time. I figure if she can wait ‘til she’s 84, I can wait a few years, too. So I’m back here to see. Is Jesus real?
How real is Jesus for you? If you were John, what would you tell Leroy? Both Anna and Simeon celebrated “new beginnings” as they met Jesus that day in the Temple. Let’s all be open to the new beginnings and new frontiers He has in store for us, too.
So, is the presence of Christ coming in new ways to your home, your family, friends – to your life – this Christmas? He’s waiting to reveal Himself to you in new and amazing ways.