Every Part of Us

This week a very important question was asked in the Martin house. It is asked every year about this time. Right about the time the Christmas mugs are unpacked, and we have returned from the Christmas tree lot with a Fraser fir, the Martins’ favorite tree for Christmas. After the tree is in the stand and moved into the house, the question is asked, which side of the tree should face the wall?

Of course, the deeper reason for asking that question is to make sure the best side of the tree faces into the room. I admit that some years that has been a difficult question to answer, partly because the Fraser fir is a terrific tree.

That question is asked when you have a fresh cut tree in your home. I understand all who prefer an artificial tree (ease of set up, pets, allergies, etc.), but there is something about the uniqueness of a fresh cut tree and the evergreen smell it brings into the Martin house that we enjoy. But the fact remains: one side of the tree must face a wall.

That’s what you get with God’s spectacularly diverse creation. No two Fraser firs are alike. No two sides of a Fraser fir are alike-even on the same tree! People are like that too. We are all unique, but don’t we all have a side we would prefer not to show to the world? When my brothers and I were small and we were going as a family into a restaurant, my dad would look at us and say, “Boys, be gentlemen.” There was a rowdy side of my brothers and me that my parents did not want fellow diners in the restaurant to see. 

As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, consider that no matter what side of ourselves we show to the world or what side we hide from the world, God knows every part of us-and still loves us. We are each an expression of God’s creative work and while our own brokenness can make that much more complicated, Jesus birth sets in motion God’s fullest plan to rescue us and heal our brokenness.

When we decorate our tree, we still hang lights and ornaments on the side of the tree facing the wall. That reminds me that God’s gift of love and redemption born in a manger reaches every part of us. God doesn’t only seek out the presentable sides of our lives, God’s redemption is thorough.

I hope you are able to share in the Advent and Christmas events at First Presbyterian this month, there is a gospel promise at the heart of what we do together: even as these winter days grow shorter and darker, the light of Christ shines brightly, and the Spirit stirs in the church. God calls us together-every one of us and every part of us-so that we can hear and respond to God’s love come near.

Growing in Christ,