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Woman and Dragon - backside of needlepoint
The upside down needlepoint. It kinda looks like a dragon.

I have a beautiful needlepoint of the Fruit of the Spirit that was given to me as a gift. It hangs on the wall in my office as a reminder of the wonderful lady who gave it to me and the character I aspire to as a Christian. The front is flawless, but—even though I’ve never seen the back—I know it is a mass of tangled threads and looks nothing at all like the carefully crafted handiwork on the front. 

There is something of that reality in my final message on the Stranger Things from the Bible. We easily recognize the beauty of the Christmas season. The lights, colors, music, and temperatures make the approach and celebration of the holiday apparent to us. But a dragon seeking to devour a newborn? This is a tangled, messy image from an upside down reality that is foreign to us and sounds more fitting for Game of Thrones than A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The Red Dragon of Christmas

Lady and the Dragon - Woodcut

And yet, if we look closely, we recognize images that have been with us for eternity. John’s vision from heaven speaks to us in a primal way. We don’t need a prophecy expert to explain who the dragon is or who the baby represents. Having said that, I owe much of this message to the work and passion of Drs. Robert Lowery and Shane Wood. They’re works on Revelation are superb and bring clarity like few other.

This sermon has become a favorite and an annual request. Last year I preached it again, with some alterations, for our community Christmas service. I have those who tell me they go back and listen to it again during the holiday season. Personally I think the red dragon belongs up there with Frosty, Rudolph and Charlie Brown as an essential part of the season.

Lady and the Dragon- Ben Riddle Barger
Image by Ben Riddle Barger

Shepherds, Wise men, and a Dragon

For the last several years a red dragon has found its way into our church’s nativity set. Sometimes this causes debate, but I’m pleased that it keeps people talking and wondering. 

“Why is there a red dragon in your nativity set?” 

“What? You don’t remember the red dragon in the Christmas story?”