Green Olives and the Baby Jesus
Confession: I love pickles. Dills, bread-and-butters, sweet baby gherkins, cherry peppers–I’ve seldom met a pickle that I didn’t adore. Ditto their relatives, the olives. As a child, I often cleaned out the relish plate at the end of holiday meals, mounting one pitted ripe olive on each finger, then savoring their salty goodness.
But I don’t generally keep an assortment of pickles in the house. Rich likes dill pickles, so they’ve earned a place in our pantry. He doesn’t enjoy other varieties, though. Since it feels extravagant to purchase food that only one of us likes, I usually skip over the other pickles.
But every Thanksgiving, one of our guests contributes an assortment of pickles and olives to our feast. I indulge in that small extravagance, right alongside the turkey and cranberries.
When the meal is over, I return the leftover pickles to their jars, push them to the back of the fridge, and ignore them. It’s almost like I’ve forgotten about the everyday goodness of pickles. They sit silently in their bottles, neglected, slowly turning to mush. Then I toss them out with no more ceremony than I would a head of lettuce gone brown.
That’s pretty silly isn’t it? I forget the extravagant gift. I ignore it. Then I toss it out.
Not this year.
This year, I pull out the pickle bottles every evening at dinner time, piling my plate with their tangy goodness. This year, the small extravagance of pickles reminds me that I await the biggest extravagance of all.
Advent follows close behind Thanksgiving. It’s a season of waiting for the most outrageous gift ever: God Himself, in the flesh, coming to us as a sweet, soft, cooing Baby. He came to lead us, to teach us, to fulfill an ancient promise. He gave His life to redeem us.
Now that’s extravagant. Ridiculously extravagant, when you stop to think about it. Please don’t forget the greatest Christmas gift. Please don’t ignore it. Please don’t toss it out.
6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 (NASB)