“Surprise! We get to come for Christmas!” Shirley dropped the phone as she learned that less than a week from the holiday that her grown son and his wife would celebrate with her.
Because Shirley had been planning a quiet Christmas at home, she had projects in progress in nearly every room. Chaos reigned. Instead of a warm home ready for Christmas in four days, her place resembled a D.I.Y remodel in progress. Exploding with ideas, she was choosing new color palettes, painting furniture, walls, making new furniture covers and moving all the pictures around.
That’s what happens when you watch twenty or thirty of those home and garden shows.
Still, Shirley could rise to the occasion of Jesus’ special day, even squeezing in decorating and getting ready for family around working full-time. Shirley pondered the type of tree her son and daughter-in-law might appreciate.
Yes! Something infused with memories and meaning!
But when Rob and Janet settled in, Shirley heard Rob whisper to his wife, “When I see this old, junky stuff on the tree, it makes me feel funny. Why doesn’t Mom get something new?”
Shirley had plenty of Christmas glitz that was new. But she wanted to include those hand-made ornaments that reminded them of shared times.
What’s so junky about this tree? A few folded and slightly bent snowflakes, cut dough reindeer with childish color accents, and picture ornaments of the children smiling through missing teeth. What’s the big deal? Janet’s family’s tree is decorated just like this with dough ornaments.
Other decorations on Shirley’s tree were collected from family trips. From them, she could hear the bells of Christmas. Shirley could have chosen from one or more of her color-coordinated trees decorated to a theme that puts Martha Stewart to shame. But she decided on a memory tree instead.
And my son calls it “junky!”
In Jesus’ time, many waiting for the Messiah looked for the new and the shiny, not the junky and ordinary. For this King of Kings was born in a place so small lodging filled up quickly. It left the Holy Family only with the old and crummy: a stable. It was there that the newborn son of God was born and wrapped in cloths. He wasn’t laid in a crib with a thick mattress resting on soft sheets within a color-coordinated nursery. The Messiah’s first human visitors at the manger were not people of position and power. The shepherds smelled like animals and were considered the lowest of life in that culture.
Yet the herdsmen knew this truth from the angels, “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” [Luke 2:11-12 NIV]
Generations had waited to see him! The Messiah! He was most wanted.
Jesus was a wanted child, all right. Herod wanted to kill him. So just in time with an angel’s warning, Joseph took the Holy Family to Egypt to escape Herod’s mass murder plans.
Everything about Jesus’ birth, life and death seemed unfit for a king. Jesus didn’t deserve a junky birthplace, ordinary lifestyle and the opposition to his ministry as an adult, plus being sinless, but killed like a criminal.
But he came for all of us, to offer all of us forgiveness regardless of levels of life and lifestyle.
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due in his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness,” wrote David in Psalm 29:2. That applies today as well, about 3500 years later.
Can we see anything junky in Jesus’ crown of love and scepter of peace? His modeling of love, forgiveness, and compassion gives meaning and memory to relationships. What better way to infuse memories than to include Jesus?
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, www.button-to-god.com. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]