Read 2 Samuel 12:1-6
Cats don’t care about Advent. Cats care about cats. We have now have two gray female cats that get shut in the basement every night. Children have shoved them down the care chain. They’ve adjusted under protest. Earlier in our Marriage, however, Shannon and I had two jobs, no kids, and one yellow male cat. Murdoch was his name. He was our stand-in for children and he knew it. He slept on our bed. We made room for him, even though he had his own bed. He was my mom’s grandcat. There were gifts for him under the tree for Christmas. Sometimes they were even wrapped with a bow and a tag that said, “To Murdoch.” Even though cats don’t care about Advent or Christmas, Murdoch liked it. Every year, he destroyed Christmas ornaments and peed on our handmade tree skirt. As we became wiser cat-parents, we would set up sacrificial ornaments within his reach on the lower part of the tree. We placed the more valuable ones higher up on the tree. The tree skirt always had that funky smell, despite cans and cans of Febreze. The sentimental side of Murdoch came out every year. He peed in that same spot on the tree skirt. That was Christmas for him.
A soiled tree skirt and dead ornaments point to Jesus. Jesus was born to occupy a place on the lower part of the tree. We place the star on top and heirloom ornaments near it. Jesus was born to be shattered. He was treated more like a litter box than a tree skirt should be. Jesus was and is The King. Only hints of this appear in his life as we have it recorded in Scripture. His love and grace always loom larger than his majesty and power.
Murdoch got cancer in 2003 and we lost our dear cat on June 4th of that year. Married 15 years while wanting kids and having none, the loss hit us hard. Pet losses sometimes do. We felt petty and empty, like foolish people who would never know a life we thought God had promised to us. In the years since, the life that Murdoch represented has reappeared. What we love about pets says more about us than our pets. We want life and hope. We want affection, relationship, and fun. Anyone who lives long enough can feel the loss of all this. Jesus took His place at the bottom of the tree so that despair and loss would only be temporary. Life, by faith in Him, is eternal.
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the blessings and goodness of life. Though Advent represents eternal gain for me as a believer, help me understand that it meant immeasurable loss for You, Father. A Son who had nothing to do with sin and death became both for us who deserve both. The pain that follows shows up starkly in our simple losses, making them so deflating. We miss people and pets as well as the best of the past, but in You there is always more hope and more life. Amen.