“Watcha got me, watcha got me, watcha got me … ?” Little Baby Jesus called excitedly from the manger. “Sorry,” said Joseph as he raised his eyebrows in Mary’s direction, “Terrible two’s. He’s turned into a mini-monster! Can’t do a thing with him.” “Hush little Jesus,” said Mary as she adjusted the clean straw, “You are being given wonderful theological imagery (which is no use to us until Ebay is invented).”
And so begins another Christmas tradition.
We have almost finished the buying. Now just the wrapping, along with the usual wondering why the (planned and agreed) budget is now just a fond memory. But it is Christmas after all. And each time I mention the “b” word – back comes the “s” word: “Don’t be a Scrooge!”
But I digress …
Do you remember ever getting a present which was so tiny you thought it not worth unwrapping? I can.
In the hurly-burly of Christmas Day – all around the tree – all taking turns opening a pressie – all the anticipation – all the excitement … And then the one offered to you would easily fit into the palm of one hand – a very small hand (like a baby’s hand)!
But everyone is watching … waiting to see what it is … waiting to see your reaction (mainly waiting for their turn for their pressie). That is pressure. And these midget presents … ? Once opened there are times I was blown away with love and affection (and other times not).
But what I have learned is this.
Asking “What is it?” is not the right response.
“What is it?” always gets a scowl of disapproval.
“Don’t be a Scrooge, Paul!”
So just imagine unwrapping one of these.
There are six here (that would have been my shopping for the whole family when I was younger).
Imagine the fiddly wrapping required for these bad-boys! Imagine the amount of packaging so they didn’t get lost before they were given out. And just imagine the reaction when that pressie was opened …
“Head lice … bit of dust you swept up … maybe something fallen out of your teeth perhaps … ? What the hell is this and what exactly am I meant to do with it … ? And now its blown it off my finger … can’t see it anywhere! Thanks very much – not … ! You horrible horrible Scrooge brother – I thought you loved me … ”
“You are being given wonderful theological imagery.”
One tiny mustard seed.
Just one each.
That is all any of us need.
Not because of what it will be. Nor because of what we can do with it. But because one tiny seed IS enough. More than enough. More than we can ever fully “use”. Because one tiny seed will become us. That one tiny seed IS us. Me. You. Each one. That one tiny seed is not something on the end of my finger. That tiny seed is implanted within me. within each cell. Within each breath. Within each heartbeat .. each glance … each word … each thought … That tiny seed of faith is I Am.
“Watcha got me, watcha got me, watcha got me … ?” “What the hell is this and what exactly am I meant to do with it” “You are being given wonderful theological imagery.”
(there are pages and pages of that word in the bible)
This Christmas I do not see faith as a jar of stuff that I fill and use and have to fill again. I do not see faith as external to me. I do not see faith as inside me, but separate from me. I do not see faith at all. I cannot see faith at all. No more than I can see inside each of my cells and watch what they are doing. No more than I can see my thoughts flit around my brain. No more than I can see my delight at a cloud, at birdsong, at the love in my lover’s eyes. But I know. It is real. It is so real – it is just “me”.
Faith is me. Faith is real. Faith I know.
Which is why one mustard seed is way more than enough. Which is why I can never “use it all up”, never have to say “I wish I had your faith”, never have to beg for “more faith please God – I need more”, and why I never have to ever worry about “faith” and me – ever!
(now where is that mountain that needs shifting … ?)
Happy Xmas, Paul xxx