I finally took my wife out on a date!
It has been way too long, between work and school and kids and everything else we needed a date badly. So we went to the historic square, had some coffee and played games at this great little coffee place, Cool Beans. Then we grabbed some burgers and fried pickle chips at PJ Marleys, stuffed our hands in our coat pockets and walked through the cold to our car across the street until we smelled the wood fire. It was so nice and warm, in the square a group of men from a local charitable organization were holding their annual fresh Christmas tree sale. They had a nice fire going in a pit, a beautiful black lab was sitting on a park bench and everyone was just trying to stay warm.
Looking at all of the beautiful cut trees I started thinking that this year I should get one of those for our holy day celebrations instead of the artificial one we usually use. But then I remembered why I don’t have cut trees in the house for Christmas. All of the dry pine needles that are always everywhere, you have to water the blasted things all the time, the needs are always poking you and the branches get dry and sharp and without fail when it’s time to take the tree out to the curb or the burn pile you have a trail detritus through the house you have to clean up.
I’m too lazy for all of that. I love our little artificial tree! It already sits in a pot, the lights are pre-strung, we pull it out of the closet, plug it in, throw some ornaments on and when we’re done we unplug it and put it back in the closet. Nice.
But, I can’t help but think that whether you are a fan of the cut tree or the artificial ones for the Christmas seasons, in either case, all we’re doing is putting up dead trees in our house. The cut trees are just that cut, severed from the roots and dead. The artificial tree is nothing more than plastic and metal stuck together, no less alive than the cut one. All we’re doing is putting a dead tree in our house with some lights and stuff to make it look like a pretty dead tree.
What’s the point?
To be honest, there isn’t one, if that tree is not filled with the Christmas Sprit then all it is, is a dead tree with some stuff hanging out in your living room. That really does seem kind of silly. But if that dead tree is filled with the Christmas Spirit, that is the Words and intentions of God born for us on Christmas day in Jesus, then that tree becomes something much greater. It becomes a living symbol of who Jesus Christ is and a witness to what God does for us and how He leads His people to live. Showing and sharing God’s Words of love born on Christmas day with that tree will fill ourselves and our loved ones once again with the Christmas Spirit and that will produce from that dead tree and a little branch in their life that will grow and blossom into a wonderful living faith.
When we look at a Christmas tree in the home of a Christian family filled with the Christmas Spirit, we see from top to bottom a witness of God’s goodness for us.
From the top
- the star or angel at the top of the tree that points us to heaven and God’s wisdom that comes from on high. In a season when we have to make a lot of choices so much of what we are hearing is telling you to that the Christmas season will only be complete if you buy all of this, spend all of that, raise crazy expectations for a perfect day. But the wisdom that comes from on high reminds us that all of that is only plastic, transitory and isn’t really Christmas. We can relax, not go in debt and focus on the Christ Jesus in Christmas.
- the lights layered upon the tree show us Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. The Light that no darkness can overcome. In a season when grief and the reminder of loss is so poignant the light of Jesus gives us comfort and consolation knowing that in Jesus Christ we already have victory over the darkness of sin and death and that victory can never be taken away from us.
- wrapped side by side with the lights is the garland, sewn closely together reminding us of how the knowledge of God wraps us and protects us. Surrounding ourselves with the knowledge of God, from weekly worship and daily prayer and devotion, pictures that have Bible verses in our homes and listening to good Christian Christmas music surrounds us and protects us and even though the temptations of sin will still come being wrapped in the knowledge of God will blunt the edge and make us stronger to resist.
- there, nestled among the lights and the garland, under the star are all of the different ornaments on the tree. From mice to toy soldiers, trains and planes, balls and icicles, it can be such a vast array of differences but they are all on the same tree. So too we as Christians, come from such a vast array of cultural, family, language and national differences but what unites us together is that we are on the same tree of faith filled with the Christmas Spirit and part of the same family.
Now go down from the star and the lights, circle down with the garlands and the ornaments to the very bottom of the tree, there among the shepherds and the wisemen, the sheep and the oxen, between Mary and Joseph, we find, who is usually the smallest of all the ornaments, nestled there in the hay,
5. little baby Jesus.
This, the smallest of all of the ornaments, there on the bottom, is the most important one of them all and the one that brings the whole tree together with the Christmas Spirit.
As we plough through the Christmas season, filled with all of the choices we have to make, maybe one of the more important ones will be, do you have a dead tree in your house this year with some sparkly stuff but still dead (if so…what’s the point) or a living tree filled with the Christmas Spirit of God’s love?