This is the time of the year when all of the classic Christmas specials are shown on television, some more than once. There are A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman and many more. One, however, has the distinction of being the first in a long line of animated Christmas specials, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. First shown in December of 1964, it has been telecast every year since, making it the longest running Christmas TV special in history.
Rudolph recognizes he is an outcast among the other reindeer, due to his glowing, shiny red nose, and in his isolation he befriends an elf named Hermey, also an outcast, an elf who would rather be a dentist than Santa’s helper. The two of them, in the midst of a winter blizzard, run away and eventually end up on the “Island of Misfit Toys”. This island is where all unwanted playthings, with some sort of physical defect or flaw, reside. Because they are unwanted and defective, they fail to fulfill the role they were designed for and are in effect lost.
Within the group of broken toys are a jack-in-the-box named Charlie, a winged lion, a polka-dotted elephant, and “A Dolly for Sue” who seems normal, with red hair and red gingham dress, but suffers from depression as a result of being unloved and abandoned by her owner. There are also a bird that swims instead of flies, a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a train with square wheels on its caboose, a boat that sinks rather than floats, a squirt gun that squirts grape jelly, and an airplane that cannot fly. All broken and rejected.
As I ponder these misfit toys, I’m reminded of the Church. Aren’t we all in fact misfits? Paul says it well in 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, (and I could add many more including, gossips, liars, greedy, envious, and jealous) shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We were broken, unloved, abandoned, defective and unwanted; not able to function as we were designed and in need of saving, rescue, and redemption.
Prior to leaving the island, Rudolph promises the toys that Santa will come and rescue them and deliver them to a deserving child. After the first showing in 1964, there was a backlash from the public because Santa was never shown going back to the island for the toys. A new scene was produced for all subsequent rebroadcasts, where Santa, with Rudolph in the lead, makes his first stop at the island to pick up the misfit toys.
Unlike the misfit toys, we weren’t designed with flaws, but because of free will and our choices we became flawed, unable to function as God designed. But, like the toys, we were redeemed, saved, as stated in Romans 5:6, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” And in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
The misfit toys were eventually delivered to some welcoming child, as is, flaws and all. We however have been made new. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Now we can function as we were designed. No more square wheels on our caboose to slow us down!