<![CDATA[I've been co-leading an Advent Conspiracy study with a friend from church. I’ll never forget what he said the first time we chatted to plan out our classes. “I like the study, but its not exactly what I expected. With the word conspiracy in the title I expected something a little more… I don’t know.” I knew what he meant exactly. Calling it a Conspiracy makes me think of people dressed in dark clothing huddled in a back room plotting and planning in the wee hours of the night. And all of a sudden the conversation sent me down a rabbit hole of memory. It was the year 1989 and I was a junior in high school. We were days away from Christmas and my brother and his family had come to visit, leaving me to bed down on the sofa. My brother and sister-in-law had been out late catching up with old friends while my parents and I babysat their infant son. I was watching late night TV on my sofa turned bed when they came in and asked me where we got the new nativity. “What nativity?” I wondered out loud. They gave me a confused look and ushered me to the front porch, “This one.” Sure enough as they opened the door to our porch, there say Mary, Joseph, and sweet Baby Jesus in all their plastic glory. It was if they had appeared there by magic or some Christmas miracle and were glowing softly in the porch light to cheer us through the dark night. It was a lovely moment in a strange sort of way. The Christ child had been brought to my door in a delightfully unexpected way. Alas, I later found out that baby Jesus appeared on my doorstep that night not by magic, but instead by the hands of some teenage boys that had conspired to “borrow” the holy family from a neighbor’s lawn and deposit them at our house for my enjoyment. My dad, being wise to the antics of boys, called the cops and the nativity was taken away. I remember feeling sad that my moment of radiant plastic wonder was gone.