“Surprise! We get to come for Christmas!” Shirley dropped the phone when she learned 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 remodel in progress. For it really was.
Still, Shirley could rise to the occasion of Jesus’ special day, even squeezing in decorating around working full-time. She scrambled around as she considered the type of tree her son and daughter-in-law might appreciate: something infused with memories and meaning.
But when Rob and Janet settled in, Rob whispered 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 was so junky about this tree? Folded and slightly bent snowflakes, dough-cut reindeer with childish color accents, and picture ornaments of her children smiling through missing teeth. Her daughter-in-laws’ family tree looked the same with her hand-made ornaments from Christmases past.
Other decorations on Shirley’s tree were collected from family trips. From them, she could hear the bells of Christmas. The Queen of Crafts could have chosen from one or more of her color-coordinated trees decorated to a theme that put Martha Stewart to shame. But she decided on a memory tree instead. And her son tagged it “junky.”
In Jesus’ time, many waiting for the Messiah looked for the new and the shiny, not the junky and the ordinary. For this King of Kings was born in a place so small, the town had no impressive homes in gated communities, no traffic jams or rush hours. The newborn son of God was born in a stable for animals and wrapped in cloths. He wasn’t laid in a crib with a thick mattress, 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, the Holy Family fled for their lives to Egypt.
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.
But he came for all of us, from all 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? Those actions model character that is timeless for all generations. So is the forgiveness we are gifted from Jesus’ life. His modeling of love and 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.]