2001 Advent Devotional

Allan H. Harvey

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (I Cor. 1:25)

One of the few televised Christmas specials I can stand is A Charlie Brown Christmas. As I watched it again last December, a less obvious aspect of its message struck me for the first time. Do you remember when Charlie Brown and Linus go out to find a tree? Lucy tells them to get something big and gaudy, preferably aluminum. Instead, Charlie Brown chooses a scrawny tree, with needles falling off and too weak to support even one ornament. To the other kids, this confirms that he is a "blockhead." Yet, in the end, this humble tree is decorated in glory and at the center of a worshipping community.

Dare I suggest that Charlie Brown's tree represents Christ? People wanted a big, aluminum Messiah to restore glory to Israel. Instead, God chose to come humbly, starting with a poor couple in a stable, then hanging out with peasants and fishermen, finally suffering and dying on a cross like a common thief. By human standards, a blockhead thing for God to do.

Of course, we are the real blockheads. We value appearances and worldly success. God cares about what is inside people, and values quiet acts of love and grace at least as much as big, visible deeds. We want to see God in the bolt of lightning or the flashy miracle, but often he comes in the still small voice, the nudge to the heart, or the compassion of a fellow human.

At Christmas, may we learn to see with God's eyes, valuing what is within others rather than the showy and superficial. May we judge our own success not by worldly standards, but by how our character is conformed to that of Christ. May we allow God to work in ways that don't fit our distorted human expectations, today as it was in Bethlehem.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this essay are the opinion of the author of this essay alone and should not be taken to represent the views of any other person or organization.

Originally written for 2001 Advent Devotional Book, First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, Colorado.
Page last modified December 4, 2001