Mug shot

Pastoral Messages | December 21, 2023

I know I’m not alone in saying this: It can be really difficult to choose a Christmas present for someone else, unless that person is a child, of course, in which case anything spelled T-O-Y has pretty good odds of being perfect. Some of us lose sleep over trying to find the right gift for our best friends. 

 There’s a trend in gift-giving this year that’s helping out those paralyzed gift-givers among us. It has to do with featuring photos of the gift giver on the presents themselves. Thanks to the ease with which we can now modify and transport digital photos, gift recipients are seeing photographic images of the giver’s face on everything from boxer shorts to wine labels, and from golf balls to oven mitts. Golf balls? I’m not sure about that one’s appropriateness unless there’s an image of someone on the ball whom you want to whack as far away from your life as possible. 

 For years now, we’ve seen photographs appear on birthday and anniversary cake frosting in edible ink. (Let me just say for the record: It’s really uncomfortable to be handed a piece of cake with someone’s nose on it and be invited to eat it.) Now, though, the craze of photo-personalized gifts has invaded Christmas. 

 Is it cheesy? Gimmicky? Perhaps, though not necessarily. Who cares, in any event? It’s at least personal and requires some effort.  

 I’m thinking about this personalized gift-giving trend with Christmas worship right in front of us. What do we get in the manger? Most Renaissance paintings of the Nativity have the little Lord Jesus naked. Poems about the Nativity have Jesus speechless since that’s how he was born. One carol of the season suggests he was silent and above crying – “no crying he makes” – which I don’t buy. What all of this leaves us with is a lot of mystery. 

 We’ll fill that mystery with our own joyous song on Christmas Eve. We’ll pay tribute to silence and peace. And, as always, we’ll look for words to say something about this Christ Child, however feeble the shape of those words. One thing we don’t have is a mug shot of the baby Jesus to plaster on a communion wafer for you to ingest. But that’s just fine. Some gifts we receive don’t need a picture of the giver to be just what we need. 

Whatever Christmas is to you, let it include the One waiting to be in your life–the one who knows just what you need. 

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

2 Comments on “Mug shot”

  • Craig Witte

    December 22, 2023 at 9:37 am

    Typical Peter, humor sprinkled around a soulful message of hope and peace making the true meaning of Christmas so comforting amid the frenzy of the commercial side of this season. Thank you so much, Peter!

  • Marcia Willi

    December 21, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks Peter… for knowing what I need and am waiting on… our dear Savior

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