The picture heading this devotion is not awaiting our trash pick-up this morning as you read this devotion. No, it is actually an important protective spirit in my household. It is the box which has housed the Christmas wreath that has hung above the front door to our home since we moved into it in 1986. Yes, I just hung the wreath this weekend for the 33rd time, and each of those thirty-three hangings have been (and will be again this year) followed by a packing up of the afore-mentioned wreath back into its original box. It looks a little worse for the wear … it has been liberally patched with both duct tape and clear tape … and its structural integrity is questionable. But until it literally falls apart I will continue to use it, repair it, and feel some odd level of loyalty to it.
It is in some ways this box is a metaphor for my faith. My faith has also been with me for a long time … longer even than our long-toothed wreath box. It has taken a beating over the years … especially when facing the death of children, which has happened yet again in our nearby Warwick community. I find myself trying to patch up the holes in my faith on occasion … when scenarios in the world knock holes in it or rattle the foundations upon which it is built. And sometimes my faith is not a pretty thing to behold … in that the world can be ugly and complicated as often as being beautiful and serene, and our faith lives must function in that complicated world. But I wouldn’t trade my faith for the world … because like my wreath box, my faith is resilient … it is real, it is consistent in its complexity, and it has helped me remain a believer in the goodness of God, in a world that tempts me to believe otherwise at times.
These statements are true about your faith, too, whether you have a beat up box to remind you of that truth or not. For to be a Christian in our world demands that your faith adjust to ever new challenges. It is by nature resilient and complex. It has loose ends and oddities to it. It may work for you in ways that it doesn’t for your neighbor, or your sister … or your pastors. Some days it may look a little worse for the wear. But it is real, and thus allows you to interpret a real and complex world through its eyes.
So take heart on those days when your faith is not pretty and shiny like the angel on your mantle. Remember that it serves as a different kind of herald in your life. Your faith is a herald … and a companion … more often in the dirty straw and manure of the manger, than it is ringing out promises from the sky above. It is the herald in the muck, not the herald from on high. And that, my praying friends, is where the action is for a Christian. Rejoice and be glad! That is where God needs us!