One of the sweetest symbols of Christmas is the Candy Cane. According to folklore, in 1670 the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany asked a local confectioner for some sweet sticks he could give to children during the enactment of the living nativity scene. He asked that they be red and white striped and that the candy maker add a crook at the top. The white stripe was intended to be a symbol of Christ’s sinlessness as the spotless Lamb of God. The red stripe was the symbol of his blood, which was poured out for us for the forgiveness of sin. It was no accident when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming out to the Jordan 30 years after his birth that he cried out in a loud voice, Behold, the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world!
The crook at the top of the candy stick was meant to remind us of Jesus who came to be our Good Shepherd, the one who gave up everything in order to save the one that was lost. The sweet thing is that once we were lost, but now we are found because Jesus is our Good Shepherd. This little piece of candy is loaded with meaning.
Sometimes people are so captured by their failures and their losses that they feel they are beyond God’s reach. The truth is that there is no depth to which we can sink that God’s love is not deeper still. No one who is willing to flee to him in faith will ever be beyond his grasp. Now that’s a sacrifice worth celebrating!
It’s become excessively clear this year that I have a type A personality. I like things to be correct, the best, and the most they can be. I enjoy things to shine as they should and to reflect the effort I’ve put into them.
It’s exhausting being me.
This holiday season isn’t any different. I was making pies to freeze in prep for the many yummy dinners just around the corner. The pie with its lattice top had cooled on the counter and was ready to be wrapped. One layer of protection on and all was well. The second layer of protection was placed and I heard it… the crisp snap of a lattice beam being broken on my pie.
In an instant my perfectionism was shattered. My hopes of awe-inspired praises were dashed. My status as supreme baker was washed out to sea. Sigh. But, a little voice called to my heart saying, “A broken pie is just a reminder that you need Jesus.”
That fact alone is why Jesus came and why we celebrate His birth. We have all tried and tried to be perfect, to get it right, to live up to the standard set before us by ourselves and others. We have tried.
And it’s exhausting.
That little baby would grow. He would be perfect. He would get it right. He would live up to the standards. He would do it for you. He would do it for me. He would do it for us. And sweetly he would call to our hearts saying, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
This Christmas, let’s put down the burden, put down the pie, the ornaments, the presents, the stress, and put on his easy, gentle yoke which gives rest for our souls as he leads us in his most perfect way.
No more exhaustion required. Best present ever.