In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ's family, then you are Abraham's famous "descendant," heirs according to the covenant promises. - Galatians 3:28-29
YESTERDAY EVENING Rebekah and I visited our friends Tim and Kelly Black to gift them with our traditional ornament. This year - as per usual - it was the kind of endearingly unique decoration that has become a highly anticipated decorating moment for all of us.
The ritual has its origins in a perfectly innocent gift exchange several years ago that led to the following series of events:
- Tim bought home a one-of-kind reindeer ornament that had been lovingly selected by a friend;
- I had a little (too much) fun at the ornament's expense in my newspaper column;
- My satirical humor caused hurt feelings in the original gift-giver;
- I made amends;
- Our friend eventually forgave me and enjoyed the joke;
- Rebekah and I gave Tim and Kelly another "creative" ornament the next year and the tradition was born.
We have, in effect, lowered the bar a little further with each passing year. What started out as a legitimately quirky tree adornment, selected with love, has now devolved into a celebration of a unique art form, also selected and given with love.
"Like it or not, you have a collection," we told them. "One year you're going to have to buy them their own tree."
BUT I'M RIGHT AND YOU'RE WRONG: The whole ongoing saga makes me realize how easy it is for us to classify things according to our own taste, and then to - either overtly or tacitly - impose those arbitrary standards on others as if there is a necessary correlation between our personal preference and what is "right."
We apply this view of the world without apology to a wide range of items, and well beyond the scope of what we may or may not consider "appropriate" Christmas decoration protocols. We confuse interpretation and opinion with absolute law when it comes to politics, religion, culture, style... in fact pretty-much anything.
It's as if we're afraid of diversity; or that we put more stock in our own prejudice than we do in truth itself; or that the structures we have erected to help us to explore ideas and art and God - and so much more - have become more important than God/ideas/art....
SO "THANKS, creatively attired reindeer (and friends, such as the dancing Elephant pictured above right)." You hold court on Tim and Kelly's Christmas tree with grace and with self-confidence; and you ask challenging questions. You are, evidently, more than just a pretty face...