One Advent tradition in many churches is having a Nativity set in which the cast of characters grows each week until baby Jesus is placed in the empty manger on Christmas Eve.

Another is to have a family within the congregation light the appropriate Advent candle, read Scripture and offer a prayer.

My friend and former student leader Lynda Freeman Lovingood and her family were given that assignment last Sunday at Ball Camp Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Lynda shared with me that everything didn’t go as planned.

Her 2-year-old son, Andrew, noticed early on in the service that the Nativity was incomplete. He began to seek the whereabouts of baby Jesus. His concerns grew deeper and his inquiries louder: “Where is baby Jesus? Where is baby Jesus?”

When time came for the family to approach the Advent wreath, Lynda and her daughter, Hayley, 7, discovered the lighter was not working. After several efforts, dad James, decided to give it a try.

When he put Andrew down to free his hands, the 2-year-old began running up the aisle, looking under every pew and shouting: “Where is baby Jesus? Where is baby Jesus?”

After retrieving Andrew, securing a new lighter and finally fulfilling their worship leadership duties, the Lovingood family returned to their pew — and young Andrew was delivered to the nursery.

While I am sure Pastor Ed Sunday-Winters had a fine sermon last Sunday, the Advent message offered by Andrew Lovingood is hard to beat. It is the right question for this time of year.

We remember and we reenact the coming of the Christ child year after year because there are so many places where Jesus is missing — mostly in our thoughts, our speech and our actions throughout the year.

Thanks, Andrew. We need to ask that question with your same intensity every day.

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