It began with one. Out of nowhere, it appeared.
A small owl made of straw-like material, decked with holly berries, greenery, and tiny pine cones. Stuck at the end of a wire, placed in the lawn close to the house.
I immediately thought of Ethan, seventeen and possessing a very dry sense of humor. One of his joys in life is teasing me, so I did what any other person assured of their solution would do.
I told him I figured out he was the one who had done it.
He looked surprised. “Who, me?’
Sly boy. It was a show to confuse me. I laughed, figuring any hesitation on my part would give him more fuel to keep up the sham.
“Sure, it was you. Who else would put a Christmas owl in my lawn?” His response was a head shake.
I thought I had him.
By Saturday the owls had multiplied. Where there had been one there were now seven. Their little owl faces smirked at me.
I texted Ethan. “I know it’s you. There are more owls this morning.”
He texted back, “I woke up just before 7 and had to be a volunteer at an event at 7:30. I had no time.”
I believe the boy protested too much. Isn’t that an indication of culpability?
Trying to nail down this allegation, I talked to his mom. Where Ethan can pull the wool over my eyes with his straight face, my daughter isn’t at all good with carrying on a deception. She looked surprised when I asked her if Ethan had put the owls on my lawn.
“Are you kidding? He hasn’t had any time–tests this week, soccer practice most nights, and helping with the soccer tournament we’ve worked. He hasn’t even slept enough.”
Was my daughter part of the scheme?
This was crazy. I know what I saw, what I was experiencing. But I had no explanation for what was going on.
That’s what Christmas is about. People saw something unexpected, a Baby born in a small town without fanfare. But angels heralded His arrival, and wise men came from the east to honor and celebrate Him, for they understood Him to be a King. The local ruler was so bothered by the prophesy of His coming and the response of the wise men to His arrival that he had all boys two years of age and under killed in Bethlehem and its vicinity.
King Herod had no explanation for what was going on, and he didn’t like what he saw.
People today struggle with what to do with Jesus. His followers are so committed that multitudes have been martyred for their faith in Him. Where His message has gone, hope springs forth. He promises forgiveness and love.
People can’t explain it.
But His coming was real. His promise of eternal life is real. His gift of forgiveness for all our mess is real.
I still don’t know where those owls came. I may not find out.
But I do know what Jesus has done in my life; He’s freed me from guilt and shame and filled me with a certainty of His love for me.
That’s nothing to hoot about.