“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. “Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy. (Isaiah 60. 1 - 5)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2. 1 – 2)
Almost every Christmas we are given a poinsettia as a present. These beautiful plants are notoriously temperamental despite growing wild in profusion in Latin America. Many a year, a plant, which had been a beautiful specimen a few days before Christmas, was already losing leaves and dying a few days later. However, not last year!
David is in charge of our houseplants. (I undoubtedly sound the death knell of even the most robust indoor plant!) He did research on poinsettias and we still have the plant from last Christmas, alive and well. It spent the summer outside the front door, but it returned indoors at the first sign of frost. It is now carefully kept upstairs in more than 12 hours of darkness so that the new leaves turn back to a glorious red. The plan is working and we have an even larger, flourishing specimen to display this Christmas. Impressive!
The poinsettia has become popular at Christmas due to a folktale about a poor little Mexican girl, who, having no present for baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve service, picked some flowers growing by the roadside near to her church as she came to worship him. Some say that the flaming red bracts resemble the star of Bethlehem that caused the Magi to search for Jesus. Others see them as symbols of joy, love, hope and purity.
As I have reflected on the journey of our poinsettia during the year, I have reflected on our journey towards Christmas, especially those journeys made in the dark into the unknown. It was people walking in darkness that saw the great light (Isaiah 9.2). Despite the darkness of the world, people were encouraged to look up, take note and see what was about to happen. A census would compel hundreds of people to make arduous journeys to Bethlehem, including Joseph, Mary and the unborn Christ-child. At the same time, a new bright star in a dark night sky interested the ancient astrologers or Magi to such an extent, that they too set off on a long and costly journey.
As we draw closer to Christmas, we too are encouraged to follow the star, to seek out King Jesus, the Light of the World, and to come and worship him.
Everlasting God, open our eyes to see your glory. May all nations be drawn to the brightness of your dawn and to the hope that is born in Jesus. Amen.
Our 2020 Christmas Poinsettia one year on