"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
December 26, 2014
The Case of the Missing Child
by Jeff Lindsay

Christmas is a big deal in Shanghai. In fact, Christmas is pretty much inescapable here. "Merry Christmas," not just "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Xmas" is written everywhere, usually in English, and can be seen on walls, doors, buildings, parking garage gates, T-shirts, and so forth.

In the elevators for the building where I work, real Christmas music is playing sometimes even music mentioning the Savior. Not bad for a strenuously atheistic country. But in all the excitement over Christmas, something is missing, just as it often is in the States.

"Merry Christmas" over the entrance to Shanghai's high-end Super Brands Mall.

Starbucks in Ningbo, China, adds to the Christmas cheer by helping someone find a mate. May Chirsmas have a lovely wedding.

The problem is not just the occasional misspelling.

Among the many Christmas-related displays and celebrations I have experienced in China, one that caught my attention especially occurred in Ningbo, China, a couple of hours south of Shanghai, where a display at a public square looked like a modern take on a nativity scene, but with toy bears all gathered around a soft place perfect for the resting baby Jesus but there was no baby there.

In a Christmas display in Ningbo, animals gather around what looks like it should be a nativity scene, minus the nativity.

The display, like our Christmas holiday in general, is a case of a missing child.

Orson Scott Card wisely reminds us that Christmas and the story of the birth of Christ is more meaningful that many Christians have recognized. I love his recent article at Mormon Interpreter, "Christmas Is About a Baby."

The gritty reality of a God who came down not just to be seen and heard, but to fully participate in mortal life with us. He experienced temptation and the need for self-restraint. He grew gradually, learned step by step, and struggled to be Who He was meant to be, even as we must grow, learn, and struggle.

His perfection was not without effort and price. Thanks to Him and His infinite Atonement, however, our imperfection can be overcome, our weakness can be turned to strength, our sin to cleanliness.

He showed us that we can follow God, that we can overcome sin, and He then went the infinite extra mile to pay the price for us that our failure be washed away, allowing us to share in fellowship with Him and the Father.

All that glory, all that potential joy, is what we should see when we look upon the manger and remember that tiny mortal being who once filled it, and filled all of us with hope.

The child is missing today in public celebrations, but may He always be present in our Christmases.

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.

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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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