Somewhere between late August and early September, I hear Christmas music drifting down the hall from my daughter’s room. By mid-October, both of my kids have started their Christmas lists, and by early November, their Dad’s had one-too-many requests to drag the tinsel and lights down from the attic.
But for me, Christmas feels “official” once the TV specials air. No, I’m not a “Not until after Thanksgiving!” legalist. When the Christmas feels come at you, by all means, go for it. For me, there’s just something about the cheesy, childhood nostalgia that gives me the red-and-green warm fuzzies. It’s as if Charlie Brown himself whispers, “Christmas is coming.”
One of my favorite Christmas shows as a kid was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”—the 1964 one narrated by Burl Ives (aka Sam the Snowman). I watched it every year with my brothers, and now, I watch it every year with my kids. But as an adult, I watch my old favorite with new eyes.
The Island of Misfit Toys
My favorite part is the Island of Misfit Toys. It’s this bring-your-own-weirdness kind of place where your idiosyncrasies are welcomed instead of shamed. Broken? You can hang with us. We’re broken, too. A Charlie-in-the-box? Go ahead and sit by the “choo-choo” with the square wheels.
It’s a place where everyone sees you for who you really are: a misfit. And you—in all your misfit-ness—won’t be rejected. Because here on the Island, broken is the norm.
If you think about it, we’re all a bunch of misfits, right? I know I am. I once mocked the mere thought of an all-knowing, all-powerful God. (I’ve always related more to Paul than, say, John the Baptist). I embraced sin and followed my heart. Trust me, there’s a reason God said “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). That desperate sickness? Deep sin and brokenness.
But even now, instead of accepting these broken pieces as part of my story, I often try to hide them. Hide from them. A bit like Adam in the Garden of Eden.
When Adam felt the effects of sin upon him after he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, in shame, he covered himself. But God—yes, all-knowing and all-powerful—walks in the garden seeking Adam. “Where are you?” He asks (Genesis 3:9). Make no mistake here. God knew exactly where Adam was. And God knew that instead of seeking Him, Adam hid.
But like Rudolph and his friends were told by the Island’s king, “living creatures can’t hide themselves.” Yet we try. We try to hide our idiosyncrasies, our fears, our imperfections, our misfit-ness. Even from God. We might push Him away or try to “hide,” because we don’t think He can (or wouldn’t want to) handle how far our brokenness, sin, and shame really go.
But like one of my favorite lines of the movie, “Maybe misfits have a place, too.”
Misfits welcome here
In a strange sort of way, the Island of Misfit Toys is a little like the Church. A bunch of broken, sinful creatures hanging around together. And like those toys, we’re waiting. Waiting on love, acceptance, and wholeness.
We celebrate Christmas because God sent our long-awaited salvation in the form of His Son, a tiny infant who would go on to bear the weight of a broken world’s sin. The sin He could plainly see. His Son was our way out of the pit of shame. Because unlike those toys, we’ve been made whole through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He deems us loved, accepted, and worthy.
Romans 5 tells us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us … For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (verses 8, 10).
Christmas is for the misfits—the broken and lonely, the forgotten, the ones the world labels “weird,” the shame-filled sinner still in hiding. Can’t seem to get it all together? Christmas is for you, too. And you don’t have to bring your “A-game” either. Just come as you are. As God reminded Paul (and us, too), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
While the rest of the world sees beauty in perfection (especially this time of year), Christmas reminds us there is beauty in the broken, hope for the hopeless. Christmas says, “Misfits welcome here.”
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