Christmas season is here, filled with all the traditions we have cherished and created over the years. Some traditions were started by you and your husband when you got married. Others have been passed down through the generations. These are the ones I look forward to the most, because they never fail to bring to mind the wonderful memories associated with them. But there is one tradition that stands out more than the others, one that I couldn’t wait to start doing with my kids when I became a mom: baking Christmas cookies.
What Makes it Special
My mom was so faithful in creating photo albums for each her eight children. (How she kept up with them I will never know!). But I love looking back on these pictures, especially the pictures of Christmases through the years. But as I sit here thinking of the pictures, remembering the ones of at least three of us standing at the kitchen island cutting out and decorating cookies, this one specifically comes to mind.
You’ll notice my mom has a wrap on her head. That’s because this was the year she had undergone chemotherapy for breast cancer. But still that didn’t stop her from making cookies with her kids. Last year, she baked a couple dozen cookies and brought them to my house for our kids to decorate, and they loved it. In short, baking cookies is special to me because of my mom.
The Hidden Message of Cookies
Maybe you don’t have these kinds of memories of baking cookies. Maybe you hate doing it but every year your kids beg you and you can’t find a good reason to say no. What if you could make the tradition mean something? What if you discovered a hidden meaning that made the mess and potential frustration worthwhile? After giving it some thought, I might have found that “something more”, a way to take something as simple as baking cookies and bringing it back to Christ and the Gospel. Keep in mind it may be a bit of a stretch, but it gives you something to think about anyway.
So what do cookies have to to with Jesus? A lot more than you may think.
The first step in the cookie making process is mixing the ingredients together. So you grab the flour, sugar, milk, salt, egg, and baking powder, and start mixing. You follow the instructions to the letter, and before you know it, you have perfectly formed dough ready to be shaped into the iconic Christmas cookies.
This is the first place where we can begin bringing God into the tradition of cookies. Just like we form yummy cookies by carefully measuring ingredients and mixing them in the right way at the right time, God makes each of us, beautiful in his sight, by forming us in our mother’s womb with the right mix of genes and chromosomes. And we can remember that every time we bake or cook and praise him for it!
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.Psalm 139:13-14
Cutting and Baking Cookies
This next part will address a reality of the Christian life that we’d rather not talk about, but is a necessary part of our lives.
What do you do with that dough once it’s formed? You flatten it out by putting pressure on it. Then you take cookie cutters and press though the dough to for the desired shapes. Then, you stick it in the hot oven to bake. Now, if cookie dough had feelings, I think it’s safe to say all of those actions would be painful to it.
Again, we are the dough. God formed us and called us to Himself. Now we are his children and as such, we must undergo some serious transformation, and some of that transformation can be painful, but necessary. In the famous Psalm 51, we see David asking God to “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Purging doesn’t sound fun, in fact it sounds downright awful. But in order to become more like Christ, we must be purged of the sin in our lives
Moving on from the depressing topic of pain and purging, we can see another picture of God’s work in our lives through the shaping and decorating of the cookies when look at the “old man, new man” analogy Paul makes multiple times throughout his letters, but specifically in 2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away and behold, the new has come.2 Corinthians 5:17
Once we become Christians, we are not to look and act the way we used to, but rather put on the new self that desires to look more like Christ. Just like the cookies look different from the old dough that they used to be.
More than a Cookie
In her book Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper writes “We need to remember, too, that when our traditions are displaying the Treasure of our lives, He is there to be seen by everyone who comes into our circle.” (You can find Noel’s book here).
Like I said, it may seem like a reach to connect cookies to our Christian lives. But if we want our traditions to mean something, to be centered around Christ, then we need to find ways to connect the most obscure things to Him. We need to find a way to turn earthly traditions into eternal treasures. We need to make a cookie be more than just a cookie.