A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - The Most Special Christmas Tree Ornament

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

I put it right up there with fleas, taxes, 
and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

You know what I mean.... 
things that you would rather go away
but they keep coming back to haunt you.

It came into my house four years ago.
It was a sincere gift by a dear friend
who just happened to go to the wrong school.

You know what school I refer to,
the one across town,
the one that is a four letter word.

She gave it to me as she arrived for a Christmas party.
I opened  the gift,
a Christmas ornament,
in the unsightly colors of powder blue & yellow.

Here put it on your tree she said.

That would be MY Christmas tree,
adorned in the festive and beautiful colors of cardinal and gold.

For once, I was at a loss for words.
I don't think my tree could accept such a  thing.
In a scene something like the haunted forest
in The Wizard of Oz,
I could imagine my tree
throwing the ornament back at me
like a rotten apple.
(which wasn't too far from the truth)

It had a scary look to it.
It had beady little eyes
and a little carrot stick nose
that could inflict a substantial wound
if used as a weapon.

Somehow, during the party,
 the ornament made it to the toilet bowl handle.
At least everyone got to see it.

It was after the party that I had to decide
what to do with it.

I could give it to the poor....
no, they wouldn't want it.

I could give it to a fan of that school,
no, that would be consorting with the enemy.

I could use it as a paper weight....
no, then  I would have to look at it all day long.

I finally decided to do
what any self-respecting pastor/fan of my school would do...


I think that first year,
I decided to just throw it out with the other garbage.

The funny thing was the next year,
as I opened my box of ornaments,
there it was, laying on top.

Hmmm, I thought I got rid of this thing

The second year,
I intended to run over it with my car.

Lo and behold,
the next year,
there was the ugly little monster
again in my ornament box

I then realized that this was not an ornament
but a curse upon my home.
It was a beady little gremlin
that sought to disrupt the beauty of my cardinal and gold home.

I think the third year,
I decided to bury it in concrete.

You guessed it...
this year, 
there it was, back with my Christmas ornaments.

It is now that I realize that for some strange reason,
this ugly little guy is meant to be in my house.
Don't ask me to explain it.
I can't.

 Much like the innkeeper had little explanation
for why the couple with a newborn babe
came to his stable,
and was drawing middle of the night visitors.

Visitors that not only came,
but who worshiped the babe.

Much like my scary little ornament 
who was made to take a lowly position on my toilet bowl handle,
the divine came,
and breathed its first breath
in a smelly, manure-filled stable.

Much like Herod couldn't destroy the newborn King by slaying 2,000 innocent children,
so too, I could not rid myself of this little beast wrapped in a scarf.

Somethings just defy reasonable explanation.
You don't try to figure them out.
You just receive them,
ponder the mystery,
and realize once again
that something far greater than what you see,
is at work in your life.

May you have quiet moments this Christmas season,
when you realize,
that you can't fully comprehend the mystery
You just receive it.

As for my little guy,
you are welcome to come visit him.

He's in the bathroom.
It's the first door on the left.

How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts,
 the blessing of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive Him still,
 the dear Christ enters in.

                                           (2nd verse  O, Little Town of Bethlehem)

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