I hauled the over-sized plastic tote full of ornaments up from the basement, opened it, and started to carefully unwrap all the baubles, balls, and special decorations packed in it.
Each one brings back memories. There are the ones we purchased at various locations where we’ve vacationed over the years. There are the ones commemorating special times in our lives like family occasions or anniversaries or new homes. There are the antique ones which used to hang on my childhood Christmas tree at my parents’ home. And there are the ones made and/or given by special friends which always bring them to mind.
I arranged the ornaments and since I was adorning the tree alone, I needed to use the step stool to reach the top third of the tree because, yes, I am too short and Papa usually is assigned that task. The tree was almost completely embellished with all of its garnishes when, while standing on the top step of the stool, I leaned into the tree a bit to hang a wee star ornament that I remember buying in a specialty shop in Seattle.
And that’s when I heard it, that familiar jingle jangling sound of something falling off the tree followed by the sound of splintering glass. I suspected it was one of the ordinary department store variety glass balls which I have plenty of and wouldn’t miss.
I glanced down to the side of my stool and there a glass ball lay, perfectly intact on the living room carpeted floor. Okay, no problem. But then as I stepped back down off the stool, I saw something else and immediately, I cried, “Oh, no!”
Lying at the base of the stool was a broken glass ornament which apparently had hit the metal step stool on its way to the floor. Oh, not this one! This one was irreplaceable.
It was a clear glass ball with the face of Jesus inside. This one was special and always hangs front and center on our evergreen tree. This one was crafted and given to me by a church friend when we lived all the way across the country in the Pacific Northwest those many years ago.
Shards of glass sprinkled my living room carpet and I gingerly picked up the largest pieces left and placed them on the top step of the stool as I vacuumed up the rest of the mess. Why did it have to be that one, I thought. Why not one of those that had no special memories attached to it?
But then I looked – really looked – at the broken ornament.
Broken. Jesus. He was broken.
And it occurred to me that is exactly what He did for us. He allowed himself to be broken. Broken for you. Broken for me. Broken on an old rugged cross to save us from eternal death because no matter how hard we try, we just can’t be good enough to save ourselves.
Immediately the words from the King James Version of the Bible came to mind. That passage in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24 where the Apostle Paul tells us that on the very night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and told us to eat the bread, which symbolized His soon to be broken body. And to do that to remember Him.
“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:24 KJV
Just last week, I read a friend’s Facebook status which was a quote by Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. Wilson said, “Jesus didn’t come into a perfect world full of perfect people, He came into a broken world full of broken people so that He could redeem us.”
Yes! That was exactly what that broken ornament at the beginning of December reminded me.
So as Christmas Day approaches, I will celebrate the birth of my Savior. I will sing of that tiny babe born in a manger, the One who came to save us all, the most amazing gift God has ever given us.
But I will also remember the grown up Jesus. The One who was born in Bethlehem, lived a human life yet became the Savior who entered this broken world to save broken people like me and you by allowing His own body to be broken.
I will sing Joy to the World, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King and I will rejoice not just for the babe in a manger but for the Son of God on the cross and the empty tomb of Resurrection Sunday.
And I will give thanks for a broken Christmas ornament that reminds me.
Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.
“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.” ~ Vance Havner