The Missing Manger

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“Ooh, Emily look at that one,” said Jessie, pointing to a picture of a beautiful necklace. “That’s really pretty.”

“Yeah, it is. But I want a kitchen set for Christmas,” said Emily, “so I can bake stuff by myself.”

“Well, that sounds like fun,” said Jessie’s mom as she entered the kitchen.

“I really want a necklace so I can look and feel like a lovely lady wherever I go,” said Jessie, walking around in circles trying to look grown-up. “I want a big gold one with purple diamonds!”

“Wow! Sounds expensive,” her mom commented.

“But, Mom, if you get it for me, you won’t have to get me anything else. I promise,” Jessie begged.

“I already got your gift,” Mom replied. Jessie’s eyes opened wide in surprise. “You did?! Where is it?”

“I’m not telling,” Mom said, laughing. “You’ll get it on Christmas.”

“But Christmas is still a week away! Please, just give me a hint.”

“Nope,” said Mom.

But Jessie didn’t want to wait. She was too excited to see her gift—it was all she could think about. “Come on, Emily. Let’s find my gift.” She led Emily to the hall closet and peered in. Suddenly, Emily shoved Jessie inside, jumped in, and closed the door. “What did you do that for?” asked Jessie.

“Shh! Your mom’s coming,” Emily whispered. As the girls squeezed close, waiting for Jessie’s mom to pass by, they heard a noise. It was coming from right inside the closet! “Ahh! I felt something furry touching my leg,” Emily screeched.

“Meow! Meow!” said Freckles.

“Be quiet, Emily,” Jessie said. “It’s just Freckles. He must have run in here when we did.”

“Oh, that’s a relief,” said Emily with a sigh.

“Shh, Freckles, be quiet,” Jessie whispered.

Suddenly, the closet door opened wide. “Oh!” said Jessie’s mom. “I thought I heard Freckles meowing. I didn’t know you girls were in there snooping.”

“Snooping?” asked Jessie with a little half smile. “What would I be snooping for?”

“Hmm. Probably for a present?” Mom said. “But you won’t find it in there.”

“Maybe it’s already under the tree,” Emily suggested.

“Let’s go look.” Jessie dragged Emily to the Christmas tree in the living room. “You keep watch,” she whispered then began rummaging through all the gifts under the tree. She picked up a red-striped present and shook it hard. Jingle-jingle!

“I hope you didn’t break it,” said Emily. “Quick, your mom’s coming!”

Jessie tossed the jingly package back under the tree as her mom walked in, eyeing the girls suspiciously. She stopped at the manger scene on the table. “Oh no!” she cried.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” Jessie ran to her mother. “Hey! The baby Jesus is gone,” said Jessie.

“Oh dear! How can we have a manger scene without Jesus in the manger?” Mom said sadly.

“We’ll find it,” said Emily. “Come on, Jessie. This is more important than snooping around for your present.” Emily tugged Jessie’s sleeve. The girls searched the whole house for the missing manger.

“Hey! Maybe Freckles hid it in his bed. He’s always taking stuff.” Jessie raced to the laundry room and dug into the cat’s bed. “Here’s my missing sock.” Jessie tossed it aside. “Oh, that’s where my new eraser went,” she said, putting it in her pocket. “I don’t see the manger, though.”

Jessie searched all week long but did not find the manger.

“Jessie,” asked Mom at dinner one night, “did you find your Christmas present yet?”

Jessie laughed. “I’ve been so busy looking for the missing manger, I forgot all about snooping for my own present.”

“Really?” Dad asked. “How come?”

Jessie shrugged. “I just felt like it was more important, I guess.”

Jessie’s mom smiled and winked at Dad.

Finally, on Christmas morning, Jessie and her parents gathered together to open their gifts. Jessie peered at the manger scene. “That’s so sad; there’s no baby Jesus in our manger scene. Emily and I looked everywhere—even in the attic where there were sticky cobwebs. Eww!” Jessie shuddered remembering how the dusty webs clung to her hair.

“But we can read about Jesus’ birth,” Mom suggested, handing the Bible to Jessie’s dad.

Jessie listened as Dad read how an angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior was born and how they would find him in a manger.

“Jesus is the most important part of Christmas, isn’t he?” asked Jessie, looking at the empty place in the manger scene.

“Oh yes, Jessie. Without Jesus, there wouldn’t be a Christmas,” said Dad. “All the gifts we give to each other wouldn’t mean anything without remembering God’s greatest gift—the gift of his Son to be our Savior.”

“Speaking of gifts, here’s one for you, Jessie.”

Mom handed her a small wrapped gift. Jessie peeled off the red ribbon and green paper, smiling excitedly as she opened the box inside.

“It’s baby Jesus!” She lifted the small manger from the box and set it where it belonged. “That looks so much better now.”

“Here’s another one for you,” said Dad. Jessie excitedly tore the silver paper off her gift. She carefully snapped opened the lid of a tiny box and gasped when she saw a beautiful, sparkling necklace.

“Oh!” Jessie said breathlessly. “It’s gorgeous!” She lifted the necklace out. It was a small, silver cross with tiny stones that shimmered in the light like diamonds. “Thank you! This is even more beautiful than the huge one I wanted. And it will remind me of the greatest gift—and the most important—Jesus!”

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A Fun Part of Answers Bible Curriculum

Justin & Jessie show kids how the Bible applies to real life! These weekly stories are part of Answers Bible Curriculum, our full-Bible, chronological Sunday school program for all ages.