Choices
Wrappings Since it’s Christmas It seems like an ideal time to write this article and address an issue, so here goes. I hear a lot of Christmas bashing lately; ‘its commercial, it’s a pagan holiday its depressing its noisy’. Everyone has their point of view, most of them are valid, some are wacky. I sat this morning and noticed some Christmas adornments around me in church, poinsettias, the tree, candy canes, snow (fake snow but the meaning is the same), and there are the gifts. When I look at poinsettias with their bright red leaves, they remind me of blood, blood running down hands and feet, blood running down a head and into eyes already full of tears, blood dripping on the ground and being soaked up; Innocent blood that should never have been shed but was nevertheless because of me. Then there is the tree, how could I leave that out? When I look at the tree two things come to mind, but of course it’s only my point of view. I think of the tree, growing out in a field in the middle of winter, green and alive when everything around it is seemingly dead. That’s us, as Christians, or should be; alive surrounded by a dead world, surviving against a hostile environment, flourishing against the odds. I see that tree (overlook the fact that’s its been cut and brought inside), decorated with several hundred lights, ornaments of every shape and color, garlands of everything from popcorn to pearls. A simple, common thing changed into an uncommonly beautiful object. God specializes in the common, He makes the common stunningly uncommon, the mundane to the magnificent, the forgotten to the unforgettable. Something He will joyfully do for us, if we only let Him. Candy canes remind me of my sticky fingers when I was a kid, they also remind me of a shepherd’s crook. The shepherd’s crook was a universal tool by shepherds then and in some places, now. They’re used to defend against predators, to reach things too far away to get by hand, to rescue sheep, which are without a doubt the dumbest animals on earth. All throughout the bible we’re referred to as sheep, I think it uses that comparison for two reasons. One is because people related to caring for sheep back then, second because we’re every bit as dumb as sheep. If it wasn’t for God looking after us we would be in a fix. He extricates us from messes, some of which we don’t even know we’re in, some we get ourselves into and some we should be in because we deserve it. He looks after us; He went so far as to die for us. Snow, fake or real reminds me of countless snowflakes, each white, pure, intricate, perfect and unique. That describes us, or rather what we should be, what we can be if we accept the gift he offers us.  Ah, gifts! Our eyes should light up at the word, our hearts should flutter at the thought, they did when we were kids. Every kid knows what the most important part is, the presents! They’re right, in a very real sense the presents are the most important if seen in the right perspective, which is the eternal perspective, the one that sees the big picture. The boxes and wrappings look impressive but its what’s inside that’s valuable, the wrapping no matter how fancy, how cute, how special is destined to be thrown into the trash and dumped into a landfill. Nope, it’s the contents that matter. My fingers hurt right now, they hurt me almost to the point of tears, my whole body does. Arthritis, three strokes, diabetes high blood pressure all add to the problem. Genetics, misuse and abuse also play a part. But that’s ok, these finger I look down at as they type (I know I shouldn’t but I’m not a great typist) aren’t me, the eyes I look down at them then up to the monitor with aren’t me. The tears that occasionally fall from them aren’t me. The heart that beats inside isn’t me nor is the brain that is only partly functional. None of this is me. It’s a vehicle to carry me, an interface between me, a spiritual being and the physical world. Its not me, its wrapping, it’s a package that someday will be swept up and thrown into a landfill people use for this type of package. They call them cemeteries, they don’t hold people, only empty containers. About two thousand years ago, another package was delivered, a tiny one, not very impressive if anyone had seen one like it before. This one was different, this one contained God Himself. It was a tiny little baby, not very impressive, certainly not looking like the creator of the universe. Some people saw the package, and that’s all they saw. They overlooked the magnificent and saw only the mundane. But other people saw it for what it was, what it is even now. They looked past the package and looked into the face of God. What a precious honor that was, to look into His face, even though it may have been sleeping or crying, it was Him. It fills me with a shudder, and fills my eyes with tears even now as I think of it. The people who only saw the package treated it as such. They mistreated it, they beat it and abused it, they destroyed it, threw it into a landfill, and put a rock over it. But… Others saw the gift, they saw what was and is important. They accepted what God had to offer. We have the same choice, we have to make it, we can’t be neutral, to do nothing is to make a choice, the wrong choice but still a choice. To accept the gift is the right choice. The gift is salvation, spending eternity radiant, alive, magnificent, perfect, unique. The package that the world has to offer which will be swept up and burned, or the Gift, valuable and precious beyond what I can describe.  Mundane commercialism or magnificent Divinity. Your choice.
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