Last night we trimmed the tree and this morning I read my Advent readings in the company of twinkling lights. My husband, bless him, suggested that we “pare down” our ornaments this year—the tree having grown heavy-laden in recent years. So we sifted through “Baby’s first Christmas” and clumsy preschool creations, and fine china stockings.
As I unrolled tissue paper to find the treasures within, I unwrapped a trove of stories—so many gifts of memory. I exclaimed over each trinket and my boys smiled at every story shared. And it occurred to me how precious these moments are, that we are now writing the stories my boys will tell their own children.
Imagine my pleasure when I open Barclay this morning to find a New Testament myth he shares about the holy family’s flight to Egypt. He doesn’t say where the story originates, only gives it as gift. So I want to gift it to you, dear reader.
“When Joseph and Mary and Jesus were on their way to Egypt, the story runs, as the evening came they were weary, and they sought refuge in a cave. It was very cold, so cold that the ground was white with hoar frost. A spider saw the little baby Jesus, and it wished so much that it could do something to keep him warm in the cold night. It decided to do the only thing it could and spin its web across the entrance of the cave, to make, as it were, a curtain there.
“Along the path came a detachment of Herod’s soldiers, seeking for children to kill to carry out Herod’s bloodthirsty order. When they came to the cave, they were about to burst in to search it, but their captain noticed the spider’s web, covered with the white hoar frost and stretched right across the entrance to the cave. ‘Look’, he said, ‘at the spider’s web there. It is quite unbroken and there cannot possible by anyone in the cave, for anyone entering would certainly have torn the web.’
“So the soldiers passed on, and left the holy family in peace, because a little spider had spun its web across the entrance to the cave. And that, so they say, is why to this day we put tinsel on our Christmas trees, for the glittering tinsel streamers stand for the spider’s web, white with the hoar frost, stretched across the entrance of the cave on the way to Egypt. It is a lovely story; and this much, at least is true, that no gift which Jesus receives is ever forgotten.”
No gift Jesus receives is ever forgotten. What gift will you give today?