There are many children's stories we tell during this Christmas season. Some of them are "biblical" and others are a little whimsical. The snowman come to life, dancing around with a top hat and a corncob pipe is a little whimsical. The warning to be good and not pout when the jolly old St. Nick is on his way captivates the minds of children and might even remind them to be on their best behavior as Christmas approaches. We would not want to forget the spindly fir tree taken home by Charlie Brown, adorned with the paper chain and given a little Christmas cheer. One such whimsical Christmas story came out of a department store's desire to have something special to give to their children each and every year. Montgomery Ward Department store had made it a Christmas tradition to give away a coloring book each Christmas season to the children visiting the store. One such season, they commissioned their very own store advertising writer, Robert May, to come up with the coloring book. Most of us know the story and can sing the jingle about this red-nosed reindeer. The meaning behind it, though, may be a little bit of a mystery to all of us. Robert May was a "taunted" or "bullied" child himself, so in creating this story of Christmas, he wanted to bring children everywhere the hope of one day emerging from their "fearful" place in society into a place of "prominence" and "acceptance". I doubt that most of us knew that little fact, but it kind of speaks of just how important it is to consider those around us this holiday season - for many will be struggling with things hidden deep within, often with huge potential not really recognized until the moment of need exposes their greatest attributes and talents! It also speaks of the importance of us loving all God's creation - not just those who look this way or that, dress in the latest of styles, or behave in just the right manner. All have supreme value in God's eyes!
You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples. (John 13:34-35 CEV)
If you have ever been ostracized from a group, you might associate with Rudolph! We may not have a "shiny red nose", but we have figures which don't fit the latest of styles, hair that won't settle into any real trendy do, and smiles that don't gleam with the whiteness of a laser light! At some point in our lives, we can somehow associate with "Rudolph" as the one who "stands out" in the crowd, not as the most "amazing", but in some other not so flattering way! In those moments, it is important to remember the object lesson of the story - we ALL matter - we ALL have importance - we ALL belong! I don't think there is a more important message we can give our children today, for it seems as though the "competition" to "belong" is harder today than it was when we might have been growing up. We might have not had the newest of baby dolls or the largest collection of marbles as kids, but we somehow made it through. Kids today are killing themselves and others just because they are bullied and ostracized from their peer groups. What a tragedy!
Christ's coming into this world was the supreme gift - what he did when he gave his life is often not recounted enough during this season of giving. Lest we forget the one thing Christ did in giving his life, let me call our attention to this one fact: He leveled the playing field for all of us! It was this gift of grace which began a revolution of sorts. His story was the same - we have ALL sinned - no one stands out as more "righteous" than the next! To this end, we ALL needed a Savior. No one could save himself through any measure of good works and "better intentions". Only by embracing the grace he freely offered to ALL who would receive can we be fully and totally transformed from our place of "sin-full" into our place of being "grace-full". ALL need his grace - ALL come by the same means into the presence of God. No one stands out as unique or better.
Maybe the Rudolph story is a little less than biblical, but it carries spiritual significance when we stop long enough to consider it. The command Christ left with each of his followers was clear: You MUST love each other - not as you might have once loved each other by looking for what another can give TO you - but as Christ loved each of us. Christ's love was revealed in sacrifice - in the laying down of his life for each of us. His love is revealed in each of us when we stop considering what we GET out of love, but begin focusing on what it is we BRING by being loving to one another.
The red-nosed reindeer is in each of us. We may not want to admit it, but we all need grace! We all need love! We all need Christ! Just sayin!