A Caramel Cream Christmas

[Disclaimer: This was originally written for a devotional within LakeRidge’s 2018 Advent series. The author opened up this time for the past Sunday’s theme, Unexpected Gift. The following reflection was something of a fanciful invention by the author in order to stir up the imagination of the reader so as to contemplate the unexpected nature of the Incarnation.]

Have you ever reached into a pocket to find something you never expected? Was it some money, a note, a ticket, or just a piece of garbage? I remember one day reaching into my coat pocket to find one of the most peculiar things. I reached into my coat and found a caramel cream, tightly wrapped and looking like it had just come from the packing plant. A brief chuckle and bewilderment came from me, and I began to wonder about whoever placed such a wonderful, unassuming gift into my pouch. I didn’t necessarily assume it was of my own doing for I’m not one to leave candy around the linings of coats —I was chided as a boy for the neglect of well-made candy going undigested. Nevertheless, the culprit of this unexpected gift was the only thing my mind’s eye could savor.

I walked; I hummed; I yawned —all along meditating not on the candy, but the culprit. As I judged this candy, my dear mother came by to ask me what ever could be the matter. As I retold my story, she chuckled at her youngest son because I had done what many regularly do. I believed contemplating the giver without ever enjoying the gift would satisfy both the giver and myself. When in reality a reply in joy was what was needed because joy is the simplest form of gratitude. I obsessed over the giver and not the gift; my mother reminded me that participation in the gift took precedence over mere contemplation on the giver.

You see, many unwittingly forget that to receive a gift one must actively open up in the gift’s reception. An unexpected gift can only be given such a title when one opens up for the possibility of something willingly given without warrant or merit. Such is the birth of Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully Human; it is an unexpected gift. It is like a caramel cream hidden unknowingly in a little boy’s coat lining — it is to be receptively enjoyed and actively savored. 

Text to Read:

John 4:10 (NET)

Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

C.S. Lewis on Originality

“No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work’s sake, and what men call originality will come unsought.” 
                                                                                     —C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis is one of the apologetical and Christian thinking giants of the past 70+ years. This one quote from Lewis hit me in the face while re-re-reading through one of the many of his essays entitled, “Members” . From a young age, I hated being compared with other people. If you ever wanted to see me blow a fuse, all you had to do was mention myself in the same sentence with someone else. As I have grown older, I realized, it is natural for people to compare and contrast other people with people who are familiar, and they do not understand explicitly what they are doing. So, in reaction to that, I was always seeking (confession: I still am) to be original.

I do not want to build on people’s work. I want all the glory; I never want to share it. You think I probably should use a past tense, but it is not in the past…it is a present issue. It has always been my thing to make a name for myself, I mean it is part of the American Dream. When I read these lines from C.S. Lewis, God sucker punched me in the face*. Most of my life, I have been uber focused on being original, different from everyone else. Because I have been so focused on it, I take my whole identity to be wrapped up in my originality. Now, I am already different from everyone else: the parents God gave me, the education, my genetic makeup, and a laundry list of other things. Yet, the Christian Life is not about being original from everything else.

My obsession for originality, thus having other ascribe a high value to me is completely and utterly a perversion of my identity; it is absolutely based upon what I or you think I should do or be. God is nowhere to be found in it. It is sin, let us not be coy about it. Sin is a perversion, a twisting, of what is good into something for what it was never intended to be. Yet, here is the great, amazing news. Jesus knows. It is the whole reason why the Son of God came. Jesus is my originality. I do not have to be original, God has already done it. I can, now, be a simple guy, doing my work.

 

*(Sidenote: I believe God speaks through many things other than just or only the Holy Scripture, yet normatively, authoritatively only through Scripture. All the other speech are pointers back to Scripture where the Word of God is revealed, i.e. Jesus Christ. There is loads more to say about it…and I’m still working it out.) 

(Some of the thoughts in this post will be updated, teased out more, or otherwise corrected. Blogging is an ongoing process.)