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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Christmas Rose

A little known tradition is the legend of the Christmas Rose.  As the legend would have it, at the birth of the Christ child, Magi had their gifts of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Shepherds had their gifts of the fruits of the fields and their flocks.  A simple shepherd stood alone in the fields that night, wondering at what a single, lonely shepherdess might bring to this King of Kings.  As this poor shepherdess stood watching in wonder at the many gifts of those who passed by on their journey to see the King, she began to have a sorrowful heart, crying tears of regret as she saw nothing she could bring which he wouldn't already possess. It is said the angels took note of her heart and her tears, making a small hole in the snow covered mountainside that night.  From the hole emerged this beautiful white rose, tipped in pink tones.  This is the gift she would bring - for no other had such a gift and no other had such a heart.  This is the legend of the Christmas Rose.   We cannot find this account in any of the scriptures, but I think it bears us exploring, for this legend brings about several lessons we might just glean about the simplicity of a gift and the attitude of heart which we should all exemplify in this season of giving.

Each of you must make up your own mind about how much to give.   But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give.  God loves people who love to give. (2 Corinthians 9:7 CEV)

A rose was not as valuable as the gold, frankincense, or myrrh.  It was not going to fill the belly of a hungry family like the fruits of the fields or the tiny lamb.  Yet, as the legend would have it, this tiny flower bloomed out of something we need to note - it bloomed out of her sorrow.  There are times when we think nothing good could ever come of our sorrows.  They come in waves and almost overtake us, and the Christmas season is filled with memories evoking such sorrows for many.  Whether it be the loss of family, or maybe the missing of one who has fallen out of relationship with us, the sorrows break upon us almost unawares, spurred on by the simplest of smells and the oddest of Christmas memories.  There, in what is to be a time of joyous celebration, hearts are weighed down with the sadness of grief.  Yet, out of grief can come some of the most precious of "gifts".  Though it seem otherwise, the shedding of those tears can become the very "water" by which the beauty of the "Christmas rose" can spring forth in our hearts!

A rose can grow sometimes in the hardest of conditions - such as out of crags in the rocks and perhaps even at the foot of the cross!  The cross is not a place of great joy, yet in the midst of sorrow and the laying down of one's self, there is a newness of life which can spring forth.  The tiniest of roses has a beauty all its own.  The white rose has long stood for the evidence of purity, innocence, and reverence.  In the bringing of the tiny white "Christmas rose", the shepherdess may have been bringing something no other recognized - the innocence of more than a little child in a manger - but the innocence of a Savior willing to lay his life down for another.  The journey ahead for this little child would be rough - if the legend holds true - the gift of the rose may have been an acknowledgement of how it would come about that the hardest and most awful of conditions would bring forth the most beautiful of gifts of all - our salvation.

A single rose symbolizes absolute devotion.  Perhaps this is one of the greatest lessons we can glean from this legend of the Christmas rose.  There is nothing more compelling than the need to be close to the one we love.  There is nothing more drawing than to feel the intensity of love pulling one closer and closer until there is not distance remaining between the two.  Devotion of heart is a hallmark of the believer.  Devotion of heart may have been symbolized in this tiny gift of the rose.  We can give nothing greater than our hearts to Christ. He can give nothing greater than the life which circulates through his heart - the life which turns our cold and hard hearts into things of beauty, innocence, and purity!

We may not believe the legend, but we can take a few lessons from it!  Just sayin!