As we entered the city gates, it was as though we went back in
time. The hustle and bustle of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago unfolded
in front of our very eyes.
Three-year-old Katelyn was beside herself with excitement as we
traveled to the realistic depiction of Bethlehem and waited in the
long line to be part of that night. We had no more entered the gate
than my daughter asked, "Where is Jesus?" I found myself catching
her excitement about seeing Jesus.
"Where is Jesus?" Katelyn asked a basketmaker just inside the
gates of the city. The basketmaker told her he'd heard that a king
was to be born.
We walked down the narrow street. We passed the tavern and heard
boisterous laughter pouring from the open window.
"A king born in a stable!" shouted one man mockingly as loud
guffaws followed. Katelyn's eyes got as big as saucers.
"See, Jesus is here somewhere," I said. "But they don't believe
"Where is he?" she asked again.
We continued down the street passing by merchants selling cloth,
copper, and other items. Then we entered the synagogue where the
Pharisees studied scrolls in dim candlelight. Katelyn peered around
the room. "Is Jesus here, Mama?"
"Not here, Sweetie," I answered.
As we left the synagogue, we saw women baking bread in a stone
oven in the middle of town. They offered us a taste of the warm,
sweet bread. I tried to point out the oven, but Katelyn's eyes
roamed the area in search of the One she'd come to see.
"I want to see Jesus, Mama."
We saw many people near the inn. As we passed by, the innkeepers
sat at the table enjoying a meal.
"Do you have any room?" Katelyn asked them, much to my
"No we don't," they answered. "Another couple just asked that
also. I hope she found a place because she was about to have a
Katelyn's eyes got even larger with a sense of wonder. "Was it
Jesus?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," the innkeeper answered. "But they went down the
"Mama, we're almost to Jesus!" Katelyn squealed.
Then we approached an area that looked like a cave, and she saw
it -- the bright star lit up the sky over the cave.
"Mama, Jesus is there!" she said with great anticipation. As we
got closer to the cave, the noisy crowd traveling through Bethlehem
grew very quiet. Katelyn moved her head in every direction,
straining to see Jesus. Finally the crowd moved along, and we were
able to see them. There in the back of the stable, we saw Mary,
Joseph, and baby Jesus.
"I want to go in there and see Jesus," Katelyn whispered. We got
as close as we could, and my child grew very quiet as a look of awe
came over her face. She could finally see Jesus, but it wasn't
enough. She wanted to go right up to him. We stood there and
watched Mary and Joseph cuddle the baby boy, wrap him in cloth, and
lay him in the manger. As we coaxed Katelyn away, I realized that I
had really seen Jesus this Christmas through my child's eyes.
I pray that I'll have Katelyn's excitement and persistence about
"seeing" Jesus every day -- not resting until I see him, hear him,
and spend time with him. After that night, my family will always
see the Nativity through the excited, awestruck eyes of a
3-year-old who reminded us of the special gift God gave us through
Lisa Keeling is the associate pastor of children's ministry at
a church in Hurst, Texas.