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‘Tis the Season

Dec. 1st, 2017 | Rev. Don Underwood

The Scouts were selling mistletoe at the local grocery story. A young pre-teen, dressed in uniform, approached me with a tiny bag of the stuff and asked if I’d like to buy some. I decided to play along. “What’s it for?” I asked. He replied, dutifully, that it was to help finance campouts and other scouting activities. “No, I mean what’s the mistletoe for?” Without hesitation or even a hint of irony, he informed me that it was to “make your wife kiss you.”

I’m a sucker for kids and can rarely pass up an opportunity to offer support for those who demonstrate initiative or ingenuity. I pulled out some cash and placed it on the table, wishing them the best. Walking away, he said, “What about your mistletoe?” I replied, to the grins of the adult leaders, “Don’t need it. I’ve got other ways of encouraging my wife to kiss me.” I entered the grocery store in an elevated mood, humming jingle bells under my breath. Thanksgiving over, I was now ready to start the celebration.

Last week I wrote about “hard Thanksgiving,” and the fact that there is lots of suffering right now. We are in a mess for sure, and I could write paragraphs about it. But as we enter into the Advent season, let’s keep things in perspective: ‘Tis the season for JOY! I’m all for the “let’s keep Christ in Christmas” theme, but you’re not going to find me in the “long faces” crowd that seems intent on turning Christmas into a joyless and somber religious occasion. Now is the time to remember the incredible claim that God is here with us; that Bethlehem represents the pure love that came to reside in the midst of the messiness of life; that we are not alone. It is a season where outlandish hope leads to outlandish celebration.

The great 20th century preacher Edmund Steimle put it this way: “And so, despite all the excesses of the Christmas preparations and celebrations, too much music and too loud, decorations too garish and too tawdry…and yet how else can we express the ‘hope and fears of all the years’ unless we hang out ridiculous little colored lights, light candles in the windows, put up holly and mistletoe, recreate the fantastic scenes of shepherds and a stable – hoping and believing – even if only half-believing – that there is a Beyond come to live with us, share our life, and conquer its death.”

It’s enough to make me rethink my transaction with the Scouts. Maybe a little mistletoe around the house wouldn’t hurt!