What Comes to Mind When You Think of Christmas? Candy Canes, of Course…
Christmas is getting closer!! I recently read something interesting the other day in the Bible. When God was calling upon Isaiah to help Him save the people, God used coal to help heal Isaiah. It states in Isaiah 6:6-7, “Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph (an angel) touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’” I don’t know about you, but while growing up my parents always told me that if I misbehave I would get coal in my stocking from Santa. So I thought coal was a bad thing. But in the case of Isaiah, coal appears to be something good that heals him of his badness. Maybe getting coal on Christmas is our reminder that we need to be nicer and that God is going to provide us with things to help us remove our badness. Nevertheless, I would suggest being nice now so that you don’t have to get coal in your stockings this year from Santa!
Do you remember the question that I asked you last week and the week before? Very good! I asked you, “What comes to mind when you think of Christmas?” Two weeks ago, we talked about Christmas trees and last week we talked about Christmas wreaths. I shared with you the legend of the Christmas wreath. Legend has it that the circular shape of the Christmas wreath symbolizes eternal life and the ever ending love of God, who sent his only Son to save us. The prickly holly on the wreath reminds us of Christ’s crown of thorns that he was forced to wear during his crucifixion. The red berries remind us of his sacrifice for our salvation. And the white blossoms bring to mind Jesus’ innocence, perfection, and pure love. You see, like the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath teaches us about the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and brings to mind that what he is doing for us today has no end–similar to how a circle has no end.
This week, I want to share with you all another thing that reminds me of Christmas. When I think of Christmas, what comes to mind are J-shaped, red-and-white colored, treats. “Candy Canes!” You guessed it! But did you know that candy canes are more than a sweet, peppermint, tasting treat that we eat or place in our hot chocolate? There is story behind the candy cane and it goes like this:
A new candy shop opened in a small village on Christmas Eve, and a little girl named Miss Lucy was helping the owner, Mr. Sonneman, unpack his creates of colorful candy. Miss Lucy saw a piece of candy that she had never seen before and asked Mr. Sonneman, “What is this?” Mr. Sonneman answered, “This is a very special Christmas candy. It is called a candy cane. And it teaches us a valuable lesson.” Miss Lucy asked, “What lesson is that, Mr. Sonneman?” “Let me tell you,” stated Mr. Sonneman in a warm and settle tone with a hint of excitement. “When placed like this, the candy cane looks like a “J” and “J” is for Jesus, who was born on Christmas day. When you turn the “J” upside down, it looks like a hook or a staff. This hook or staff reminds us of the shepherds in the field, who were attending their flock by night. And did you know Miss Lucy, that besides Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents, that the shepherds were the first people to find out that Jesus had been born?”
Miss Lucy asked, “And what about the red and white stripes? What do they represent?” “Well Miss Lucy,” explained Mr. Sonneman, “when Jesus grew to be a man, some Roman soldiers arrested him. They beat him so hard that his blood ran down like red stripes. But Jesus asked God to forgive those soldiers. He forgives all people when they ask him. So the red stripes remind us that Jesus gave us the great gift of forgiveness when he died on the cross. Furthermore, the white stripes remind us that Jesus rose from the dead and our hearts are washed clean from the sin when we give our lives to him.”
The story ends, “On Christmas Eve, everybody came to the new candy store. They were happy and excited because they shared gifts and candy together. But they were especially happy because they shared something more. Something bigger. Something better. They shared the story of the candy cane and the story of Jesus.”
The next time you get a candy cane, think about Jesus and the love that he has for you; and think about what Jesus has done for and is doing for you so that you will always be loved. The candy cane is more than a special treat, it is a promise that Jesus loves you unconditionally for ever and ever. So cherish his love as you try not to get any coal this year in your stocking!
Your Friend, Holy Spirit!
(This adaption of the candy cane story was influenced by the book The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg.)
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