Archive for November, 2006

Does It Hurt? Being Real?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Today’s scripture: Luke 2:10-11 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tom Chittenden):

Have you seen it yet? Have you seen Happy Feet? I may be in my early 50’s but I will never be too old for good creative animation that has a message for humanity. Isn’t it amazing, by virtue of today’s technology, how the animated characters look and act as if they are “real”. Several times in this particular movie and others like Polar Express, as I wipe tears from my face, I have to remind myself they’re not.

It was this “reality check” that sent me scurrying through my personal library when I got home to locate one of my very favorite short stories, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation between the Rabbit and the Rocking Horse (by the way, not every devotional has to be about “real people”).

“What is Real?” asked the Rabbit one day…”Does it mean having things that buzz inside you or a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made”, said the Rocking Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes”, said the Rocking Horse. “It takes a long time to become Real. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been pulled out, your eyes punched, your tail twisted and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

The Rabbit sighed. He longed to be Real, to know what it felt like. He wished he could become that way without having to endure those uncomfortable things.

Have you noticed how human behavior undergoes certain changes during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season? Smiles and greetings are more prevalent. Generosity abounds. Some people think that the “real” person comes out at this time of year; while others contend that this seasonal behavior is superficial and phony. One of my favorite moments in the upcoming Christmas musical at JMCC, The Wonder of Christmas, is when these words are spoken:

“For hundreds of years, Love had whispered, ‘I am coming! I am coming to be with you, to stay with you forever!”

I certainly desire for each of us that the coming of Jesus “to be with us” will be the focus for this season of joy. The reality of Christ brings about the way of life in us that the Rocking Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit discussed.

A toy in the hands of a child may be abused even in a context of love. So it is with people. Being Real means that we may become hurt or get out-of-sorts with others — but it is worth it! In the fantasy world of toys, it must be better to be a teddy-bear in the hands of a pre-schooler than a china doll on a shelf.

My challenge to myself and each one reading today is to be Real. Let’s make ourselves accessible to one another, becoming involved with one another. For indeed Christ became accessible to us and involved with us when He became Real on that very first Christmas Day.

By the way, this just happens to be one of the central messages of Happy Feet: be Real, be who you were created to be. In doing so,you will know Real joy, as you measure out God’s grace to others, you become Christ to them. You just can’t get any more Real than that!

Thought for the day: Jesus, today whenever presented with an opportunity to be me, driven by ego, or You, living in me, driven by Love — help me to choose Love! I want others to see You in me, only then when they know I am for Real!

Today, let’s join together in prayer for: our Board of Trustees, led by Tom Gayler. They oversee a myriad of building-related tasks. Thank God for their essential service — and pray that God sustains them and encourages them in their tasks.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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