You can listen to the story here, or read below:
In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on Biblical principles) in the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments, and a large orphanage run by the State. It was nearing the holiday season for the orphans to hear for the first time the traditional Christmas story. They told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem and finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable and found a manger, where Jesus was born and placed in the manger. Throughout the story, the children, according to one of the Americans, “sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.”
As a follow-up activity to the story, each child was given three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was also given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins which the children tore into strips of paper and carefully laid them in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel from a thrown away nightgown were used for the baby’s blanket. From pieces of tan felt a doll-like baby was made.
As the Americans made their way around the room to observe the children’s progress, this is what one of the Americans noted, “All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see, not one but two babies in the manger.”
The American observer went on to note that Misha very accurately recalled the story that had been told to the class until he came to the part where Mary laid Jesus in the manger. Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said the following, “And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no momma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him, but I told him I couldn’t because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me, ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon him, would never abuse him, would always love him and stay with him – for always.
I believe that is what we are all looking for in this life, and the promise of God is that through this Christ Child the Heavenly Father gives each and every one of us that home. That is the meaning of Christmas, in that the baby in the manger offers each of us a home in God’s kingdom as Jesus said in John, chapter 14, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2) In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also be … 18) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Even still, come Lord Jesus. A blessed Christmas to you! Amen.