Let the wonder and the joy begin to swell | Church Corner

Where are you finding meaning in Christmas this year?

Where are you finding meaning in Christmas this year?

On our first Christmas, Tricia and I had just moved to the little college town of Newberg, Ore., and money was in short supply. Although I knew we could certainly survive without a Christmas tree, the vacancy in our living room was etching a corresponding hollowness into my sense of the season and in my sense of how things ought to be for us. So I prayed that we might somehow be able to afford one.

I think it was three days later that I was walking home from I-don’t-remember-where and there it was: a Christmas tree of appropriate size, just dumped in the field near the street, tinsel strands still on it, no explanation, clearly abandoned. I paused to survey the scene. Then I stood it up, walked around it and after I was satisfied that it approximated the answer to my prayer, shouldered it and walked the rest of the way home. In lieu of decorations, our first tree ended up wearing scarf, hat, mittens, plus a few stuffed animals nestled in its branches. The whole effect carried meaning for me.

Some of you are nodding your heads at this point, affirming that the meaning of Christmas is to be found in simple things, rather than the commercialization of Christmas; romanticizing about the kind of blessings money can’t buy, getting your Christmas glow on and affectionately visualizing Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. I salute you. I must also interrupt the glow to warn you: that’s not actually where I’m going with all this.

That evening, as I explained to Tricia the magic of God’s faithfulness in terms of a dead evergreen in our apartment, I was dismayed to find that her thoughts were moving in a different direction. She was unsure as to why I would drag something that had been abandoned in a field into our home. She wondered if it might carry disease, bugs or some other unpleasant surprise. And I think she hesitated somewhat at the idea of showcasing someone else’s garbage in our living room. She was not excited, but she was loving. The tree stayed.

Looking back, I get it now. Both of our perspectives made perfect sense. And for me, it’s no longer the tree that is meaningful in this story, but the tenderheartedness of God in providing it and Tricia’s willingness to bypass her own perspective in order to bless me in the middle of mine… both compounded by a quarter-century of having seen more of the same.

Our affections get tied to the various traditions, events, foods and practices of Christmas and indeed, most carry a measure of meaning. Enjoy them, but keep in mind that they are by no means universal in their meaning. This is why God began with the most universal of ingredients in providing the backdrop of an impoverished barnyard scene. This is why Jesus is spoken of with terms of universal clarity when it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever would believe in Him would not die, but have eternal life.”

Ponder the tenderheartedness of God in sending his son. Consider Jesus’ willingness to abandon his own context in order to bless us in the middle of ours. Let the wonder and the joy begin to swell.

More in Life

Enumclaw High hosts 7th annual Empty Bowls event

The event, held at Enumclaw High School, will help fund the Enumclaw Food Bank and Plateau Outreach Ministries.

A modern fairytale with a twist

He did it on one knee. One knee, with a nervous grin… Continue reading

Read the first two books before tackling ‘Banished’

Well, look at you. And you do — ten times a day,… Continue reading

Buckley Kiwanis names Students of the Month

For January, students from White River High School, Glacier Middle School and Carbonado Historical School District were chosen.

How to keep The Courier-Herald visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections, and you might see less news. Here’s how you can fix that.

A small act of kindness can make a big impact | SoHaPP

Join SoHaPP’s book group this February to discuss “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. Don’t have the book? Check it out at the Enumclaw Library or visit The Sequel.

This book will WOW you | Point of Review

Wow. Just… wow. Did you see that? Wasn’t it awesome? It was… Continue reading

EHS graduate McNab promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

Tom McNab was recently promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force.

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

‘School of Awake’ offers advice to adolescent girls

Twinkle, twinkle. For as long as you can remember, you’ve known how… Continue reading

Mental health first aid training in Enumclaw | The Summit

Friday, January 19 at 7 p.m., Dr. Michelle Bengtson will kick off the mental health-themed weekend by speaking on Hope for Depression: The World’s Greatest Epidemic. Dr. Bengtson is the author of the award winning “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression.”