I think it was our second Christmas together that we found ourselves in a local Christian bookstore standing in front of a display with lots of boxes. They were all labeled the same: “The Christmas Nail” and the package was long and slim and covered in shiny gold paper on the back. We bought one. We’ve hung it in our home every Christmas holiday season for the past 19 years…whether we decorated the rest of the house or not. It’s become that important to us.
It is long and slender and it looks like what it is–a really long spiked nail. The instructions said that we were to place the nail in a place where only the family from the house would know where it was…prominent enough for us to know about and be reminded throughout the holiday season, but not so much so that it became the focus for those who might come by to visit.
The whole point of this particular “decoration” is to be a personal reminder that the Baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas came for a much larger purpose. He came to save the world. That didn’t happen in a beautifully wrapped and cozy atmosphere…any more than his birth did…in fact, it was far worse.
The saving of the world was no easy thing. It was angry and brutal, fierce and devastating…and the most loving response of a Heavenly Father to a fallen world who so often chooses to ignore the gift it made possible. If there was any other way than the cross that could have happened, don’t you think He would have taken it?
So I’ve been thinking about that Christmas nail today. Maybe it should be on display at this time of year, too…not hidden, not secret…an open reminder that what we celebrate at this time of year truly isn’t about colored eggs and bunnies, Easter baskets full of candy or pretty new clothes to wear, but about a God who loves this world so much that He gave up His only Son…for you…and for me…so that we could spend eternity with Him…starting now.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (HCSB, 2009)