Assembling a Merry Christmas

“We’re just a couple of misfits. Trying to fit in”

Like many Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is one of my favorite cartoons of Christmas. I like the part of the story about all of the misfit toys (a toy train with square wheels or a squirt gun with jelly, or an elephant with pink spots, or perhaps even a “Charlie-in-the-box”) and of course the misfits – Rudolph and Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist. I can relate to the misfits because most of my life I have seemingly been a bit of a misfit.

Now I have a theory about where all the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys come from. I believe these toys aren’t actually from the North Pole, but rather they are the sad victims of countless parents’ poor attempts at assembling toys without instructions on Christmas morning. Perhaps as a result of watching these misfits, or a childhood trauma, or a lesson learned as an adult, I have become an assembly instruction aficionado.

I love instructions, or as my son puts it, “Where are the ‘Questions’?” I guess he has witnessed one too many instruction-less assemblies!

I believe many of us struggle with Christmas and all the associated joy. We struggle like a misfit trying to fit in while those around us relish in a season of merriment and joy. I propose to you this day that our problem is not with the product of Christmas, but rather we have failed to properly read and follow the instructions.

So let’s review the instructions given us to assemble a merry Christmas:

Step 1A Find and follow the instructions

This seems obvious, but it needs to be said. Remember the trouble shooting guide for a desk lamp says, “1) Have you checked to be sure the light bulb is good? 2) Is the lamp turned on? 3) Is the lamp plugged in?” All seems obvious, but you know someone didn’t read them. Don’t let that someone be you this year.

Our instructions will be found in the gospel of Luke in the second chapter.

Step 1B Find the important part. 

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:15-16

A Merry Christmas begins with a baby in a manger. This is the most unlikely place to find a Merry Christmas for some, but this is no ordinary baby. Sometimes the most unlikely part is the most important part.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

This baby was born to die so HE could be our Savior. This baby was the anointed one, our Christ. This baby is Lord of all (including us). A more joyous celebration cannot be found. The main focus of Christmas must be sought carefully and diligently or it will be missed.

Sometimes the most important part can be lost because it is so small. Christmas is found at a lowly stable in Bethlehem. You would miss it unless you were following the directions.

Step 2 Find someone else to help you celebrate.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. Luke 2:17

The whole reason for the season is found in the birth of Christ, but part of the joy of the season is sharing the news (not presents or fruitcakes). The shepherds increased their joy by spreading the good news of Jesus’ birth. Keeping the story of Christmas to ourselves will rob us of the greatest opportunity we have to discover true joy and to have a Merry Christmas.

Step 3 Think it through

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Luke 2:18

The true meaning of Christmas gets lost in the hustle and bustle of adding to the season things that distract us. The message was plain to those shepherds that night and it struck wonder in the hearts of those that heard their tale. The message was simple and uncomplicated.

Take time and read the story of the first Christmas and listen to the Word of God. Take the time to sit, relax and meditate on the wonder of the true story of Christmas. If by focusing and listening to the story we can rediscover the true meaning of Christmas, we will indeed have begun to assemble a Merry Christmas.

Step 4 Don’t throw anything away! 

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

First, understand “kept” to mean that she remembered the events of that night and the things connected to the birth of the Savior. She meditated on those things. Every detail that surrounds Christmas is important and must not be forgotten. If it is lost then our Merry Christmas is just a poor facsimile of the original. Have you ever looked at the finished product and compared it with the picture on the box?

They do look similar but if not constructed carefully there will be tell tale differences that will be evident in the copy. If you try to skip steps, the parts left over testify to a sloppy job or poor assembly, or missed instructions.
Secondly, “kept” can also signify “to observe or to celebrate”. As we observe the Christmas season, let us center our traditions and celebrations around the things that remind us of that blessed event or the important part.

Step 5 Don’t stop until the job is done.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto themLuke 2:20

Many things are left unfinished simply because we did not take the time to finish them. The shepherds returned to their job and their responsibilities with a different attitude. They may have gone back to the same boring job but they were not the same men. The joy of the first Christmas had changed them and they shared the story of what they has seen with all they encountered.

Have you allowed Christmas to make a positive difference in your life? Do you return to work after Christmas, praising God for the gift of his Son and rejoicing in a Merry Christmas?

The steps to assembling a Merry Christmas are clear but they are not always easy. It takes some effort to assemble a Merry Christmas. It certainly took some effort on the part of the shepherds and Mary.

And let’s not forget poor Hermey and Rudolph who felt like misfits while trying to assemble a Merry Christmas.

Perhaps, you are struggling this year to put together a Merry Christmas.

This season try following the instructions to assemble a Merry Christmas.

If assembled correctly, what you build will stay with you the entire year.

So, if you are having trouble assembling a Merry Christmas, take time to read the instructions this year and assemble a Merry Christmas for yourself.


I am a United Methodist Pastor and have the privilege of serving as the Senior Pastor for the church of my childhood. I preach in a place I once was an acolyte. I love to preach, but more importantly I love to teach. I firmly believe that Faith Matters and should affect how we live. This blog is a place where I come to share the randomness that is life and faith ... and the intersection of the two.

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