When Baby Jesus Wore Nikes

A few days ago, a friend asked me when Tait performed in his first musical. At the time, I told her that it was in the fifth grade when he was in the ensemble of Fiddler on the Roof, but later I thought about it some more. As a matter of fact, his first big show was seventeen years ago this week. He played the part of baby Jesus in the Souled Out drama team’s Christmas production that year, and thus began his onstage career. He was five weeks old when he sang his first solo in his first show. It wasn’t great timing for a solo, but knowing Tait now, I bet it was at least in the right key.

As our teenage Mary wrapped my newborn carefully in a white blanket, she worried that his feet would be cold. So, she went to his diaper bag and got his little shoes. As the music started on stage, she held him closely, wrapped in swaddling clothes and sporting a tiny canvas pair of Nikes. He was carefully wrapped so that no one saw the shoes, and he did great through the first song. When the music stopped, a restless baby Tait started to wiggle and kicked his little foot out of the blanket with a dramatic flourish. Teenage Joseph (who was famous for ad libbing lines) said,  “Just Do It, Jesus!” The crowd had a good Christmas laugh, and Tait started his first solo (which sounded a lot like the wails of an unhappy infant). Joseph continued ad libbing, “I’m sorry, son. That was a bit too much pressure. All you’ve got to do is grow up and save the world.”

The little baby Jesus, now with both Nikes proudly on display, continued to scream and kick for two more songs while the poor teenagers did their best to comfort him and keep the show going. Then, just as the crowd joined in singing  an a cappella round of Silent Night, he went sound asleep in Mary’s arms, just as the tiny little Savior of the world was supposed to do.

I can’t ever get through the Christmas season without remembering my sweet little baby Jesus who performed at the Allen’s Point Community Center in Honey Grove, TX in December of 2001. Now, he wears a size 12, towers over me, and sings bass. The other kids in that show are all grown ups with kids of their own. We’ve celebrated many Christmases since then, and life has changed in more ways than I ever dreamed that it could, but the one thing that remains the same is that we celebrate a little baby born in Bethlehem to save us all.

I went home that night and rocked Tait to sleep. I will never forget it. I started to weep. Perhaps for the first time, I really put myself in Mary’s shoes. What must it have felt like to hold the Son of God? Did she understand that night what was in store for her child? How did she do it? At that moment I wanted nothing more than to hold my baby just like that for the rest of his life. I bet she felt the same thing. She didn’t do that, though. She shared him with the world just as God asked her to do. Eventually, it cost him everything, and the cost for her was higher than I can imagine. God’s gift to the world is such a beautiful thing. Don’t miss it this December.

This Christmas, when you take the time to worship, and you must worship (if not, you are missing the whole point of Christmas), let your worship lead you to action. Go, give, seek, hold, help, love, be the reason that someone smiles today. And, maybe, if you listen real hard, you can hear Jesus say, “Just do it!”



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