Recently I listened to Brad Wilcox as he spoke about his favorite Christmas symbol. He chose the poinsettia. I learned so much about the history and beauty of the poinsettia!
Brad shared, “I love the legend of how we got the poinsettia in the first place. The flower originally came from Mexico, where it was called ‘Flor de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flower of the Holy Night’. According to the legend, the flower first appeared in a little village long ago, in Mexico, where everyone was getting ready for Christmas.
A local priest asked a woman in his parish to weave a beautiful blanket that could be placed under the statue of the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. The woman’s daughter, Luz, was so proud that her mother had been chosen, but as Christmas Eve drew closer, her mom became gravely ill. Her husband prepared to take her to the hospital in the big city. Luz was very worried about her mother, of course, but she was also worried about the blanket. Reading her thoughts, her father said, “The priest will have to understand.”
But Luz was afraid the priest wouldn’t understand, nor would their friends or neighbors. Everyone was counting on her mother, and now her mother was sick. There would be nothing to give the Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve.
Luz decided she was going to finish the blanket herself. The more she tried, the more it turned into a tangled mess. When Christmas Eve came, instead of going to the church, Luz hid behind her small house. An old woman saw her and approached.
“What’s wrong, child?”, she asked.
Then Luz began to sob. “I have nothing to take for the procession of the gifts. My mother was supposed to weave the blanket, but then she got sick, and now I have nothing to put beneath the statue of the Baby Jesus.”
The woman looked at some weeds growing nearby. “What about those? They would make a comfortable bed for the baby.”
Luz stared at the woman in disbelief. How could she take weeds to the Savior?
But then the old woman explained, “Any gift is beautiful when it is given in love.”
She gathered an armful of weeds and extended them too Luz. Luz obediently took the weeds and headed to church. When she walked inside everyone gasped. They couldn’t believe she was bringing weeds into the church. She was ready to turn around and leave, but she saw the priest smile and beckon her to come forward. As she placed the weeds around the statue of the Baby Jesus, suddenly they were tipped with beautiful red leaves. They looked like flaming stars. The manger shimmered and glowed as if lit by hundreds of candles. A hush fell over the congregation. The old woman was right. Any gift is beautiful when it is given in love.
According to the legend, every Christmas since that day red stars have shown atop green branches in Mexico, and all around the world. I love this story. The legend reminds us of the love with which we should give gifts to each other. but it also reminds me of the gift of grace that Christ has so lovingly given all of us. In the legend weeds are made beautiful, and that is how Christ can change and transform each of us.
Because of the Messiah in a manger, we can be changed, our hearts, our desires, our very nature. We can be made holy. We get pretty content to stay weeds when Heavenly Father has much greater things in store for us.
The flower of the Holy night reminds us that because of the Messiah in the manger, “holiness to the Lord” can become “holiness like the Lord”. As we give ourselves to God in love, He can turn weeds into poinsettias.”
Because of Jesus Christ, His birth, and divine sacrifice, WE can become something more than we are. His grace is the gift that completes us. On this Christmas, may we feel of our Savior’s eternal love for us, and emulate His love to all.
May your Christmas be filled with the love, light, and hope of Jesus Christ!
With love and faith,
except from Brad Wilcox, “Five Minute Firesides”, December 2019