There was once a little red-headed boy who was one of the sweetest kids ever. He had a little round, mischievous face but a heart of gold. He was sensitive, but could get his dander up pretty quick. At the same time, he could be tough and give others a run for their money.
One day when he was in first grade, he proudly brought home a wrapped gift, almost shaking; he was so excited.
“I made you and Mom something really good,” he said, grinning ear to ear.
On Christmas morning, no other gifts seemed to matter. Mom and I had to open that present as soon as possible. In fact, if possible, could we unwrap it first? There was no doubt in the mind of this 6-year-old that this was the best gift.
We would have been happy with anything, but this particular kid-made gift was very special. During the month of December, the first graders had written a poem using grammar components they had learned during the year.
The top line was a person, place or thing. The second line was a describing line of the first which later would be called an adjective. The third line was a three-word phrase, talking about the first line again. The last line had four words. The shape of the poem was that of a Christmas tree, complete with a star on the top.
Our son’s tree had “Jesus” as his first line. The full poem read: “Jesus. Very shiny. God’s first child. Jesus is never mean. It was printed out so nice, with some illustrations around the border and the usual “I Love You” prominently displayed on top. It was in a simple wooden frame. It was beautiful.
We made a big deal over it, as we usually did with hand-made gifts from our children. It was special. I remember the look of pride on his face when we opened it. So happy to give us something.
When it was time to take down the holiday decorations, we packed it away. It comes out every year and we still let out a contented “sigh” as we unpack it. We search for a place to display it. This year, it sits close to the dining room table on a little end table that always has to be moved to make room for the tree.
I passed it the other morning. Every time I pass it, it makes me smile. I walked up to it on this particular morning and I re-read the words I’ve read so many times: “Jesus. Very shiny. God’s first child. Jesus is never mean.”
Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.
It occurred to me how much gospel is there in those few simple words. Not only that, how much faith is there? To a little child, Jesus is always there. To a little child, He is the Light and is “very shiny.”
God’s child, who came to Earth to save us. Jesus is Love. He is never mean. Good stuff; even if it is my kid who wrote it.
That kid is in high school now, and rolls his eyes when I tell him I’m using his first grade gift for my column. “Why?” he asks. Because you’re still that little boy to me, and you still have that heart.
There are so many things I wish you this season and throughout the year. Health, blessings, and rest. Quiet moments, meaningful conversations. Good food, hot coffee and lots of laughter, hugs, and feelings of belonging and purpose.
But most of all, my dear friends, I wish you a very shiny Jesus.