Skip to main content

Under the mistletoe

Ever been caught in one of those awkward moments when you are just standing there unaware of the fact you are directly under the biggest sprig of mistletoe you have ever seen? There you stand, almost looking "desperate" to any passerby, all the while totally unaware of your precarious perch! It may not faze you much, but it would mortify me if someone caught me "under the mistletoe" and I had no clue who that I was even there!  It would be one thing if I "planned" it!  Lest you think I am a "mistletoe" phobic, I am not.  I am just a little "selective" about who kisses me ANYWHERE, let alone under the mistletoe!  As we continue our look into some of our Christmas traditions and signs of the season, we would remiss not to look into the origin of this practice.  Did you know the "belief" behind mistletoe is one of ensuring fertility?  Now, consider that one the next time you perch under that red bow festooned innocent looking sprig!  In some countries such as Scandinavia, warring spouses were actually asked to kiss under the mistletoe in order to return peace to the home!  If it were only that easy, my friends!  What most of us don't know is the this seemingly harmless little sprig of greenery displayed in our holiday homes is actually a parasite!  It thrives off of the life of another!

Stay joined to me, and I will stay joined to you. Just as a branch cannot produce fruit unless it stays joined to the vine, you cannot produce fruit unless you stay joined to me.  I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me.  If you don’t stay joined to me, you will be thrown away. You will be like dry branches that are gathered up and burned in a fire. Stay joined to me and let my teachings become part of you. Then you can pray for whatever you want, and your prayer will be answered.  When you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored.  (John 15:4-8 CEV)

In actuality, mistletoe is what botanists refer to as a "partial parasite".  It actually grows on the branches and trunks of trees, taking the nutrition it needs to thrive directly from the tree.  It actually sends out roots that "burrow into" the tree and suck out the life supply from the tree.  It is not rooted in soil, but in the tree itself.  It can grow on its own, but it thrives in the trees because of this tremendous power it has to root itself in the tree.  The damaging effect of mistletoe is well-known to those who live in European countries or down the East Coast in the US.  It can suck the life right out of the trees, allowing damaging molds and mildews to penetrate the touch bark of the tree which was designed to act as the tree's barrier of defense against the effects of such damaging forces of nature.  It also provides a source of protection for birds of the air looking for a good place to nest in these trees - kind of like a natural "resort" for their nests to take hold.

As we consider the "opportunistic" features of this plant, we might just find a few lessons we can take to heart.  We are all meant to take root - but it is not a parasitic type of rooting we need!  When Jesus speaks of us taking root, he describes more of a "grafting" process whereby we are grafted into the vine.  In time, we take our nourishment from the vine because we are "linked" to the vine by the grafting process.  The mistletoe sends out its own roots and burrows deep into the life supply of the tree.  The Christian is asked to allow his life to be severed from the old way of living, grafted into a special place on the "main vine" (Jesus), and then to learn to take his supply from the vine, not what we can find on our own!

Since this parasitic plant has such potential for damage to the host tree, those who observe its presence actually seek to remove it from the tree.  In time, if left to its own devices, it will overtake the tree, bringing the tree into submission to it, rather than the tree bringing it into submission.  Think on that one a moment, my friends.  We can choose to be parasitic in our growth - taking, taking, and taking - until we become the dominant life; or we can choose to be cut off from the old way of living and allow ourselves to learn to take life from the one who gives it on our behalf.  It is a matter of which "will" will win out!  Ours or his!  

By definition, a parasite is anything (or anyone) which takes life from a host without returning anything in turn.  I don't think this defines the grafting process, for when we take "hold" in the vine, we actually begin to produce fruit which not only brings glory to the "host" vine, but it provides nourishment for others who are seeking refreshing.  The parasitic effect of mistletoe is quite the opposite - for it is not life-giving in any respect.  It takes until there is no more to take, then "branches out" to take more elsewhere.  In essence, it is kind of a selfish and flighty plant!  It has its own needs in mind and it "uses" others to further its own agenda!  This certainly does not describe the life Jesus desires of those who follow him!

So, whether we subscribe to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe or not, let us take a lesson from the green sprig.  Life lived "off" another is quite different than life lived "in" another.  Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce