Day 2 Christmas Reading: Vines and Branches
READ John 15:1–10; Exodus 12:1–13; Luke 22:14–20
Christmas is a time when women like me get all excited. We get giddy putting up our trees and decors. We fuss over colors, themes, dishes to cook, parties to host and to attend. We wear our best outfts. We zoom in and check the littlest details and make sure everything is in accord with the overall cheer of the season.
And now I want to invite you instead to focus on the real details of Christmas. By this, I do not merely mean checking out the materials and festivities, but to seek for the meaning behind the familiar objects that we often see around this time of the year.
One Christmas symbol that fascinates me is the mistletoe. Ever wondered how this famous Christmas symbol could relate to Christ, at all?
Culturally, mistletoe is part of many legends and myths, of ancient Druid tradition and Norse mythology. This plant was thought to have medicinal properties to improve fertility, as well as bring good luck. But when Christianity began to be celebrated in Europe, this plant’s symbolism was also redeemed as it was incorporated into Christian tradition. It seems to me that, Christians have a lot in common with the mistletoe when it comes to the kind of relationship we must have with Jesus.
According to Professor Frank H. Tainter,
“Mistletoe plants are parasitic plants that directly derive all or most of their nutrition from other ﬂowering plants during most or all of their life cycle.”*
In other words, the mistletoe can only stay alive as long as it is attached to its host plant. Does this remind you of anything?
Just as mistletoe has to be “rooted” into the bark of an oak tree, we as “branches” are to be grafted into the True Vine. This is vital, the Bible says, not only to bear fruit, but if we desire to be anything at all, we must abide in Him! Without God we can do nothing. And in the event that we choose not to abide in Him, our fate is to be cast away. We will wither, just as mistletoe dies when removed from its host.
In human societies, parasites are unwanted for they are considered users and freeloaders. Though the term can be quite derogatory when it is used about the human species, I think it is truthful to view myself as a parasite in my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what I am: unworthy, inadequate, unholy.
Above all, I am dead and nothing without Him.
But thank God He welcomes us to be parasites for His love and life. To allow us to freely partake of these not only gives us life but even makes us blossom into better individuals. We don’t deserve His grace, we are parasites, yet He would rather we attach ourselves to Him so we can have life to its fullest.
Jesus is the giver of life! He is our host! Praise Him!
Just as the mistletoe can speak of old traditions and yet remind us of spiritual truth, other Christmas decorations speak to us both of tradition and spiritual truth. A symbol more familiar to us in the Philippines is the Christmas parol. As we go through this season, in which decorations from many cultures remind us of the frst Christmas, may we be prompted to meditate, and make the spiritual connection that will bring meaning to our celebration. As we decorate our homes, may we reﬂect on the “Reason for the Season” and thank Him for the greatest gift of all.
Take time to reﬂect on the Bible verses and what the mistletoe means in relation to Jesus Christ.
Why not make a decorative bundle of mistletoe stems, yourself, complete with leaves and berries? Search an online step by step guide and why not make mistletoes with your girl friends or kids?
Review what you know about the Philippine parol. Find a visitor to the Philippines and explain the significance of the Star.
Rest in the Lord
Lord Jesus, how can You be so good to let a mere parasite like me live and thrive in Your love? Thank You, for being so good and merciful! And praise You for shedding Your precious blood so I can be spared from the death I so deserve. Today, I meditate on what You have done and put my entire faith in You, the key to overcoming death and gaining eternal life. Please continue to enable me to abide in You for the rest of my earthly and eternal life!
This is an excerpt from Better Than Jewels by Rica Peralejo - Bonifacio, now available at OMF Lit and Passages Bookshops, PCBS, and our online store, passagesbooks.com for only P425.
Join Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio every week of the year in Better than Jewels.
In this weekly devotional she shares her reflections on the joys and trials of motherhood, generosity and gratitude, love and sacrifice, and hard lessons from her past.
Each weekly entry comes with a page for journaling. You are encouraged to write down your own reflections and applications after every devotional entry.
As you read this devotional, may you discover that the wisdom found in God’s Word is far better than all the jewels in the world.