By Aaron Elder
Christmas in the real world might be described this way. It certainly looks much different than the Christmas cards for sale or even the ones we’ll send and receive. As I write this, I’m staring at the foot of our Christmas tree. Scattered are three ornaments fallen from the tree. Jumbled into a heap is the kids’ nativity set. Two of the magi lie face down, a donkey rests unassuming on a toppled palm tree and baby Jesus lay upside down inside the tipped over manger scene with two other figures and a plastic bale of hay. And one gift from an extended family member sits just behind with its view obscured because of my angle.
Shooting up from the floor is our Christmas tree – medium bodied and raw from the forest yet full of ornaments, every one with a story to tell. Many of them look a bit awkward or bruised. Tucked to the left is a brown and green snowman I made at around 8 years old whose head was broken off – but now glued – hanging firmly on a branch. A silver ball handed down from generations prior rubbed and worn. And several made by our kids (ages 7,4 and 2) with a mix of colors and varying degrees of stability.
As I ponder this scene, my view turns to the cross of Jesus. Scattered like ornaments were those standing aloof beneath the cross, unattached to the event taking place. Jumbled into a heap were the hearts and lives of Jesus’ relatives and friends. Broken. Crushed. Prostrate on the ground. And, obscured by the view, was a gift. Shooting up from the ground, that tree, once an instrument of scorn, now held the whole world as a set of ornaments. Those scattered will be added. Every one with a story and every one wholly dependent on the tree for life, beauty and meaning. And just as I can restore the nativity scene with little effort, so too Jesus rose from the dead as if waking from sleep.
For now, though, I leave the scene as it is. It is advent season. We are waiting. We are hoping. It is busy. It is a bit of a jumbled mess. It is in the midst of this jumbled mess that we find Jesus, even now, making everything new.