It was colder than usual. Grady, Goober and Jack stood looking at the nativity display in front of the church and felt the wind whipping around the corner of the building. All the characters were in place. Plywood shepherds, sheep and wise men filled most of the set. Some knelt before the manger, others stood around as if talking. Mary and Joseph were on either side of the manger and on the bed of straw was baby Jesus.
Because of the wind the little blanket covering the baby had blown off. “That just ain’t right,” Goober said. “That little baby would catch his death in weather like this. All those people standing around, somebody ought to do something about this.”
“Goober, they’re made out of plywood,” Grady said.
“Don’t care. It just ain’t right.”
“Well, get over there and cover him up,” Grady said.
“Uh, uh. Don’t you remember what Pastor Jerguson said? We ain’t supposed to touch a thing. We can look all we want but we can’t get off the sidewalk.”
“Yeah, but he didn’t expect the wind to blow the blanket off the baby Jesus.”
Sitting down at their feet, Jack was intensely studying the scene. He, too, saw the baby doll uncovered and obviously shivering in the cold. He left the sidewalk and walked into the stable. “Jack, get back here!” Goober yelled. Jack kept moving toward the manger. “Jack! Get over here!”
He placed his nose on the baby’s plastic face and felt the chill. He whimpered, then gently lifted the baby by the arm and took off.
“Jack!” both Goober and Grady yelled. They charged off after the dog stealing away the baby Jesus. Jack far outdistanced them. Holding the baby securely in his mouth, he ran through the bushes and up on the porch to the front door of the church. He scratched at the base of the door until an usher opened, then he trotted inside.
“Jack,” the usher whispered loudly. But Jack was heading to the front. Pastor Jerguson was finishing up his Christmas Eve message about making room in your heart for Jesus. Down the aisle came the yellow lab with Baby Jesus dangling from his mouth. He went underneath the altar and lay down. He placed the baby next to his belly and slipped his arm around the doll. He set his chin over the baby’s head and dared anyone to take him away.
Grady and Goober burst through the door but the usher stopped them in the foyer. They all looked down front at the dog warming the baby that had been left shivering in the cold. Everyone had walked past the display to get into the church. They all saw the baby, exposed to the cold. But only Jack cared enough to bring him inside. Pastor Jerguson stood speechless, tears streaming down his face. For here on Christmas Eve an old dog had a more welcoming heart for Jesus than a church full of folks he was trying to inspire.