My friend and former Pittsfield colleague Karen Gygax Rodriguez is the Pastor of the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wisconsin. On the Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, the baby Jesus figurine was stolen from the church’s nativity scene.
The police investigated, but had no leads. They speculated that the thief was from outside Green Lake, since “everybody knows everybody here, and it would have been returned by now.”
On Tuesday the local ABC affiliated TV station ran a feature on the story letting the public know that the church would not press charges if the thief or thieves returned the figurine.
I’ve been following it on Karen’s Facebook page, and have been struck by several lovely features of the story. First is how gracious and loving Pastor Karen and her flock have been about the theft. The crèche was only a year old and given in memory of a beloved staff member, so they could have been really angry about the theft and lashed out at the thief. But instead they asked that the figurine be returned without penalty.
Secondly, Pastor Karen used the incident as a teaching moment to say that whether the figurine was returned or not Christ would be present in the church and in the hearts of the people. In the end some may have had to think more deeply about the meaning of Christmas because of this.
And, finally, in a gracious act of ecumenical solidarity the local Roman Catholic Church volunteered to share their Jesus figurine with the Federated Church.
But that won’t be necessary, because this Christmas story has a happy ending. Someone from a nearby town who had seen the news ( watch TV) spotted the missing figurine and called the police to report it. Officer Jason Reysen of the Green Lake Police Department brought the stolen figurine into the church office today. Karen just posted on her Facebook page: HE’S BACK! !! THANK YOU! And indeed He is:
How about that for some late Advent eschatology!