Several years ago, a former staff member of mine, Rev. Jane Gibbons, shared the reading of a book as part of a staff team devotional. The book is entitled, You Are Special by Max Lucado. The book taught me a life lesson that I have attempted to keep in front of me ever since.
The book tells the story of a community of puppets that receive stars for accomplishments and dots for failures. These stars are dots are worn for all to see. One day a puppet greets another puppet who has absolutely no stars and no dots. Over the years, Lucia had learned to put her trust in Punchinello, the one who had created her, rather than other people. Because of that, the stars and dots did not stick to her.
People typically enter the Advent season with a lot of stars and dots from previous years. Most persons carry a combination of happy and hurtful moments from the past, and some of these can become overwhelming at Christmas time. No matter what our past accomplishments or disappointments, the season of Advent can bring a fresh perspective into our lives by encouraging us to focus upon the powerful presence of Christ, who can transform any life and any memory.
The greatest example of emptying oneself is Jesus who humbled himself to be born as a baby and take on human flesh (Philippians 2:6-7).
It is a good thing to celebrate achievements and to learn from our mistakes, but such reflections must not overwhelm us. Accomplishments can threaten us to rely upon ourselves more than God and disappointments can prevent us from remembering that we all are children of God.
My prayer is that we can all enter into this Advent Season ready to experience God in a new and fresh way.
C. Jeff Woods
Acting General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA