Poinsettias have come to be known as the official “flower of Christmas.” Every year, hundreds of these beautiful, red flowers adorn homes and churches. At my home church in California, dozens of them would be donated on behalf of a family member or in memory of a loved one. They were an enormous part of our sanctuary’s decoration in the weeks leading up to Christmas as well as weeks following Christmas. Every year after Christmas, my dad, having the green thumb that he had, (and still has) salvaged as many of these flowers as he could and planted them in our backyard.
Besides being red and shaped somewhat like a star, I always wondered if Poinsettias had any other relevance to Christmas.
There is a simple, yet powerful old legend that ties together Christ’s birth and this flower.
Once, there was a young girl named Pepita with no present to give to baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. She thought and thought, but could not come up with anything to bring with her for the Christmas Eve service that evening. Downcast, she walked to the church empty handed. Her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up saying, “Pepita, I’m sure even the smallest gift that you give will make Jesus happy, because it would be given by someone who loves Him and the gift would be given out of the cheerfulness of their heart.” As they continued walking, Pepita knelt and picked a handful of weeds from the roadside and arranged it into a tiny bouquet. Even though she still felt embarrassed that this was all that she could offer the King of the world, she continued to ponder what Pedro had said as she made her way up the aisle of the church. Slowly, she felt a sense of joy and thankfulness as she knelt and laid the tiny bouquet at the feet of the manger. As the night went on, the bouquet of weeds blossomed into beautiful, bright red flowers! They came to be known as Flores de Noche or “Flowers of the Holy Night.”
This humble story of the Poinsettia is a reminder of how God works through us. In our own eyes, we may not view ourselves as being able to offer much, but with God’s power, He turns our small offerings into an abundance. How easily we fall into the role of Pepita where we measure what God has bestowed upon us and judge that He has not given us enough to give back to Him! Even the smallest offering can become the hugest blessing in ways we cannot even fathom!
As January sets in, we think of Christmas as being over and done with, a check off our never-ending list, but I encourage you to be like my dad, salvaging and taking care of those beautiful flowers. Don’t lose that sense of celebration, awe and wonder of Christmas and what Christ can do and has done! As Pastor Steve Kline encouraged us this Christmas, don’t just let Jesus remain a lifeless, figurine baby in a Nativity set; let Him be the King of your entire life!
As you still see the lingering of Poinsettias in homes, in church and in stores, let them remind you of what Christ can accomplish through you and then watch as He opens doors you would never have dreamed of walking through. Happy New Year and may God truly bless and work through you this 2018 and beyond!
Emily came from San Diego, California and joined the Shepherd of the Hills staff in 2017. She graduated with her undergraduate degree and DPM certification in music from Concordia University, Irvine and is currently working on her masters degree in choral conducting at Concordia University, Wisconsin.