Today I chose the element of a special Christmas mug, with the symbols and hues of the season.
It is easy to obtain a cup with a Christmas theme. I like the holiday colors and cheerful reminders of the season that decorate some of our Christmas cups, it helps add to my mood to celebrate.
I know that some people collect holiday cups for the sole purpose of looking at them in a cabinet or sitting on a shelf, but the original intent of the cup shape is to hold a desired drink. The design and the choice of materials combine for the vessel to hold its contents.
It is made for something.
Unlike the teacup and saucer ornament, I can use it to fulfill its basic purpose. There were years that the special holiday cups and mugs made it into all year use, the complete opposite of sitting primly on a cupboard shelf.
While continuing to use our special holiday cups throughout general use the rest of the year, I learned something.
It doesn’t take long, in our house at least, for ceramic or porcelain cups to develop chips and cracks, if not getting broken outright.
Eventually I learned the lesson of putting away such things for the rest of the year, and giving them the honor of a place out of harm’s way. Then when used, they remain in good condition (as much as possible).
I also learned toÂ handle them with a little little more than the usual care when bringing them outÂ to be filled with a special tea or holiday blend coffee. It is a balance of using them for their purpose and taking extra care to protect them.
During this week of focusing on “love”, a comparison comes to mind.
Something else that comes into focus at this time is our closest relationships. We want the Christmas version of our relationships to have a special holiday glow, with the colors of happiness and cheer, but some of those can’t help but become tarnished with the use of every day… or chipped, and sometimes broken.
Maybe it is time to learn to handle one another with care, whether in certain seasons of life or as we gather together – however often that might be.
I don’t know how it happens, but too often we reverse the way we value those closest to us. It is a common tendency for us to neglect the most fragile inner parts of those we touch and instead give our best care to many who have a fleeting place in our lives.
The thought of giving honor, in the most basic way, to a person of importance in our lives, may mean the difference of helping us fulfill our purpose, and they, theirs.
The world is harsh enough, and the nativity story reflects that: lives disrupted by government demands, injustice and powerful people manipulating conditions for their personal benefit, just plain difficulty that can arise at the most inconvenient times.
We do not see God’s hand making any of that disappear. Instead, there is Mary’s joy at being chosen, Joseph’s kindness towards her, the Angelic messages of revelation, the provisions from unforeseen sources, notice given, and the deliverance from the snares of evil men.
With all that, the comfort of gracious promises from the only one capable of making good on them.
In all that is aÂ distinct definition of love. A very specific form of love, far removed from Hollywood glamour and romance, from idealistic utopian thoughts, from self-serving philosophies of Hedonism andÂ Epicureanism- which have a pronounced presence in our thinking about love today.
What Does It Take?
What does it take to truly love one another today? How can we nurture those relationships which mean most to us?
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Lully, Lullay, The Coventry Carol
O Come, O Come Immanuel
The First Noel
Hark The Herald Angels Sing