Wot ? No Christmas Tree ?

A christmas tree.Image via Wikipedia

This article by Eugene H.Peterson originally appeared in the December 11, 1987 issue of Christianity Today and relates the extraordinary story of how at 8 years old his mother decided there would be no Christmas Tree. 

The thought of this is pretty stomach churning and to my mind very cruel, and today it would be considered a case for child abuse....Mercifully the tree re-appeared the next Christmas. 

I certainly would not advocate this as a way of introducing the idea of being an outsider to a child but it is worth reading how Peterson the adult describes the impact it had on him with some humour, and the part his atheist uncle played. Remarkably, he is now thankful for it. 

This is the last part of the article below:

"The feelings I had that Christmas when I was eight years  old may have been the most authentically Christmas feelings I have ever  had, or will have: the experience of humiliation, of being  misunderstood, of being an outsider. Mary was pregnant out of wedlock.  Joseph was an apparent cuckold.

Jesus was born in poverty. God had  commanded a strange word; the people in the story were aware, deeply and  awesomely aware, that the event they were living was counter to the  culture and issued from the Spirit's power.

They certainly experienced considerable embarrassment  and inconvenience—did they also clumsily lie to their friends and make excuses at the same time they persisted in faith? 

All the joy and  celebration and gift-receiving in the gospel nativity story took place  in a context of incomprehension and absurdity. Great love was given and  received and celebrated, a glorious festivity, but the neighborhood was  not in on it, and the taunts and banter must have cut cruelly into their  spirits.

So, Mother, thank you. And don't apologize for the  silliness. Thank you for providing me with a taste of the humiliation  that comes from pursuing a passionate conviction in Christ. 

Thank you  for introducing into my spirit a seed of discontent with all cultural  displays of religion, a seed that has since grown tree-sized. Thank you  for being relaxed in grace and reckless enough to risk a mistake. 

Thank  you for being scornful of caution and careless of opinion. Thank you for  training me in discernments that in adult years have been a shield  against the seduction of culture-religion. Thank you for the courage to  give me Jesus without tinsel, embarrassing as it was for me (and also  for you?)."

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