|Behind The Art - Holy Christmas/Christmas
We were engulfed in the massive upheaval of moving house. Crates, boxes, packing material everywhere. I placed a large shallow ceramic bowl on a card table, preparing to envelop it in bubble wrap. It had been a gift to me, sent from Japan. A brushed design in the blue-green glaze depicted two carp. With the bowl half full of water, and - depending on the season - with a few azalea blossoms or red Bradford pear leaves floating on the surface, the effect was of quiet woodland stream or pool. So natural were the two images in the glaze, that at the first surprised glimpse, one felt moved to say, "Oh, I just saw a fish!"
I suppose that children were reminded not to run while indoors as often
in our house as any other. Nevertheless, my four-year-old son Joshua was
running through the cluttered living room. He caught his foot on the leg
of the card table, and my bowl fell to the floor, and it broke. I was
very, very angry.
Many years later, after many Christmases in the new house, my wife and I decided that it would be fun, and certainly something different, to celebrate the holiday away from home. our family took a winter cruise.
"Fun," as we all eventually learn, is an elusive condition, obtained, more often than not, inadvertently. However, in the matter of accomplishing something different, or even odd, we were brilliantly successful. The oddest time of all was Christmas Eve, as we floated around somewhere in the misty, incongruous Caribbean.
I felt moved to say something to the family about our Lord's birth and it's promise, not a seasonal prayer or sermonette, just a timely word or two to encourage us to pause and think about Jesus, and his life, and the effect of his life on our lives.
Unexpectedly, I remembered the incident in the living room of our old house so many years earlier. While I reconstructed the scene for the whole family, I knew that Joshua's recollection, like mine, was particularly vivid. "OK," I said. "You have the whole traumatic picture: Joshua has tripped over the card table and is still on the floor, intensely aware of what he has done; the broken shards of the bowl are there beside him. I am, as you no doubt recall, furious. Now with that in mind, I want you to imagine something else. There is a knock on the door. We open it. Imagine Jesus Himself standing there, patiently, expectantly. (He did drop in on people when He lived here. He has dropped in on us.) He walks into the room. He looks at us and, of course, is instantly aware of everything going on.
He kneels down close to Joshua, gives him a brief reassuring hug, then very carefully picks up all of the fragments of the broken bowl. At His touch it is whole again. He hands it back to us. We look at Him. He looks at us. We look at the bowl, not a single crack or chip, half-full of water, red blossoms floating, carp swimming. His touch has made it better than new. This is His plan for us, as well. He intends to make us better than new.