See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1
This is, as Disney sometimes begins, “A tale as old as time.” The ongoing, epic, tree-decorating saga I’m writing about started back around 2005. The legend was kicked off – as these things often are – by a mistake that turned into a serendipity that turned into a joke that became an ongoing love story (Click here to read the origins at this post, “Jesus came for all the ornaments“).
The short story is that Rebekah and I are now a good 15 years-plus into the annual gifting of hideous, ugly, tacky, sometimes repulsive Christmas tree ornaments to our friends Tim and Kelly Black.
What’s great about this year is that the Blacks thought we’d be unable to pull it off (because we typically travel far and wide and search high and low for these “gems”). But they didn’t reckon with Rebekah’s prescient view into the future when – a few years ago – she found an extra ornament that she then stashed, hopefully in a hazmat vault, waiting for the right time.
Because if any “ugly ornament” ever said, “COVID” then it would have to be this one. Who knew, when some slightly deranged artist first shaped such a decoration, how appropriate it would look in 2020?
The package arrived in Pennsylvania yesterday (I’m not sure but I think Tim may have extracted it from the box with long-handled tungsten tongs) – and here are some of the reactions, as shared by Kelly and Tim’s kids (then them):
- Micah: “That doesn’t even make sense.”
- Liam: “It looks like a thing from ‘Wreck it Ralph.'”
- Vivi: “That is definitely going on the back of our tree.”
- Titus: “Is that a frog? Or something else? Can I touch it. I don’t get it.”
- Kelly: “We get it and we LOVE it… This is absolutely Covid and you guys are genius… It will be treasured always…”
- Tim: “Treasure. Like buried treasure.”
But the Message:
This year more than ever I feel the need to bring this message to as many people as we can. It’s the message that Christmas is God’s invitation to take a long look at who we are – average, exceptional, unconventional, “beautiful”, loved, desperate, homespun, shooting star, world-changer, quiet, confident, overwhelmed, gifted, plain, ordinary, luminous, front of the tree, back of the tree, accepted, rejected, popular, lonely, rich, poor – and then to look at ourselves through the eyes of Jesus and to understand that we are absolutely loved, valued, forgiven, and invited home.
That’s the big point of all this: “Loved, valued, forgiven, and invited home.”
I can never think about Tim and Kelly’s “ugly ornament” tree without understanding the incredible reach of the Good News story, and being reminded of not only Christ’s good humor but of his goodness and unquenchable, unstoppable love.
In love, and because of love – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.