Poor Little Critter

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:16–21 NIV)

Each December, my wife and I pull out all our Christmas themed children’s books. A favourite of mine is Mercer Mayer’s Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad, part of her Little Critter series. Page after page, Little Critter attempts, but fails, to make Christmas great for his family. He damages the house decorating, eats all the cookies meant to be gifts, covers himself in tape while trying to wrap presents, and breaks all the Christmas ornaments while attempting to decorate the tree. Poor Little Critter!

This cute story highlights Christmas in far greater ways than initially intended. Plagued by his limitations and mistakes, Little Critter required significant help to make Christmas special for him and his family. Yet, despite all his failings, the final page of the story shows Little Critter triumphing in the joys of Christmas morning; his parents had succeeded in accomplishing all he could not.

Are we not all like Little Critter, scrambling through life attempting to make everything “right?” Yet, we too are confronted with our limitations and mistakes; we too need someone to succeed in accomplishing for us what we cannot accomplish on our own.

This is what we celebrate at Christmas: our God who sees our failings and, instead of pushing us away, comes to us in the midst of them and does for us what we could never have accomplished on our own.

This passage – 2 Corinthians 5:16–21 – resounds with this triumph. It testifies to the reconciliation we have to God because of Immanuel, Jesus, God with us. What we celebrate at Christmas is the gift of reconciliation coming to us. As it says in verse 21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus came and did for us what we could never do for ourselves so that we might experience joy. So, like Little Critter, our limitations and failings do not need to end in despair because, in Christ, they can end in triumph.

As we journey through this Advent season, may we not turn a blind eye to our own insufficiencies; rather, let us allow them to help us see the profound and beautiful gift of God doing for us in Christ what we could never do on our own.

Adam Buyer is an associate pastor at Terwillegar Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta. He will also serve as one of the morning devotional leaders at the 2024 Triennial.