“On That Holy Toy Box”, by Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures”

Flickr User Francisco Anzola

Christmas is coming up, and I know kids are going to get a lot of toys from friends and family.  My three year old son is starting to take more of an interest in the Avengers, but he still has a soft spot in his heart for stuffed animals (pun definitely intended).  My daughter is only a year old, so stuffed animals are right up her alley. 

You’re probably picturing a room full of teddy bears, but you’ll need to be a little more…creative.  You wouldn’t believe all of the different stuffed creatures inhabiting our house.  You’ve got your teddy bears, polar bears, panda bears, koala bears.  Elmos, elephants, elves, eagles.  Dinosaurs, dogs, chameleons, kangaroos.  Lions and lambs.  And even an alien.

Sometimes I feel like saying to the kids, “You know…if these were real animals, we’d probably have to separate them…otherwise we’d have a room full of dinosaurs and…well let’s just say cotton would be everywhere.”  But I’m a good dad and don’t want to traumatize them, so I’ll leave the lion and the lamb next to each other on the bed.

In the First Reading this week, we hear about God’s holy mountain.  The Messiah will usher in such a peace that “The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.”  It goes on to list other unlikely animal pairings, and that there will be “no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the LORD; as water covers the sea.”

The Messiah isn’t going to bring a peace that’s simply unlikely, or that you don’t see too often.  He’s going to bring a peace that’s otherwise impossible.  There’s no non-stuffed, non-animated universe where the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb.  In real life, the lamb is going to deadbolt the door and huddle in the closet with a baseball bat, because he heard what happened to the three little pigs.

This kind of peace is impossible without Jesus, but it’s the peace that we long for.  It’s the peace that we’re made for.  Children have a sense of this built in; they wouldn’t think twice about the stuffed dinosaur having a tea party with the stuffed Pikachu (that may come as a shock to you…pun definitely intended again).  But as we get older and experience the brokenness of the world and of ourselves, we get cynical and stop believing that kind of peace is even possible. 

So this Advent Season, while your inner child is coming out while you look at Christmas lights going up and while you watch Buddy the Elf eat spaghetti and syrup, apply that to your spiritual life as well.  Just like the little child in the First Reading guides his unlikely furry friends, ask Jesus to bring that kind of radical peace into your heart – into your work, your school, your friendships, your prayer.  And if you’re wondering what to get my kids for Christmas, I think we have enough stuffed animals…

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