Have you ever retrieved mistletoe from treetops? There really is only one way – a twelve-gauge shotgun. I know this sounds a bit drastic, but take my word for it the stuff grows in out of the way spots on a tree. First you find an oak tree whose branches are marked with the distinctive green clumps of mistletoe. Next you take careful aim, squeeze the trigger and – BLAM – you have mistletoe showering down on the ground. Today school rules prohibit public displays of affection but when I was in middle school mistletoe was the perfect tool for soliciting affection from cute 7th graders. On any given day during the Christmas season I could be seen boarding the school bus with feed sacks full of mistletoe.
I wonder why we don’t use mistletoe in the Hanging of the Green service? Along with the draping of garlands, lighting of the Chrismon tree and hanging of wreaths we could post mistletoe above all the doorways of the sanctuary. Think of the implications – every time you entered the house of worship you stood a reasonable chance of getting pecked on the cheek (of course Gloria Patrick does this anytime of year with or without mistletoe).
Before you think I am too off the wall turn to your Bibles. In several of Paul’s letters he exhorted the believers to greet one another with a “Holy Kiss” (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:26). Perhaps a kiss to someone outside the family is just too much for some of us to take in, but I dare say there is not one of us who would not appreciate being the recipient of someone else’s affection. For some, church is the only place they can go to get a hug or a tender handshake.
It is easy to only hear and take in the bad news going on in our world and our lives. As a result affection is often viewed with suspicion, even fear. The message for many is that you are not loved, not good enough, not worthy. What better time than Christmas to remind all those who enter the house of worship that they are welcome and they are loved? Indeed, isn’t that THE message of Christmas? “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
See you this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent. Who knows…I just might have some mistletoe in my coat pocket!
Blessed and joyous Christmas,