Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christ in the Christmas Tree




The decorating tradition begins at our house while our hearts (and stomachs) are still full from our Thanksgiving Day celebration.  Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I have a system and reason for everything that happens in that process.  The tree is among the first to go up.

Tree
They are the base for beauty and family celebrations of the Christmas season. The evergreen is the favored choice for most. The imagery is of life continuing while the other trees drop their leaves. While it may seem to some that we live, then die – gone forever, actually our lives on earth is just a short part of our lives, a very short part (like a puff of smoke) compared to eternity. When choosing something to hold our joy, something worth celebrating, we choose one that is full of life. Evergreen and everlasting life.

Some trees are cut near their base leaving their roots intact to grow again. Others are dug with their roots bound to be replanted and grow in a new location. Either choice fills the air with a wonderful fragrance. Like the smell of popcorn can make us drool, the smell of cedar spruce or pine can evoke memories of past Christmases.  Smart marketers sell “Christmas” sachets, sprays, and potpourri all filled with a “Christmas tree” smell to further enhance our cut-tree experience. While uncut trees release some fragrance, those that have been cut and release their sap deliver far more of their lovely aroma.  

How beautiful is the picture of a tree being cut and still releasing a pleasing fragrance for us to enjoy. How much more beautiful was our Christ who willingly gave His life’s blood for us. It is the only means by which we have eternal life in heaven. Our sin disqualifies us, but by accepting His sacrifice on our behalf and making Him Lord over our lives we will be granted entrance into heaven’s gates. I pray the cedar spruce and pine fragrance we associate with Christmas fun and celebrations around a tree will also remind us of the precious life blood Christ gave for us.

It is inevitable when handling a cut tree that we carry that fragrance with us and on us for a time afterward. Just as we carry the fragrance of the cut tree on us, I pray we also spend enough time close to Jesus that we carry His fragrance and transfer it to all with whom we meet!  

For trees beautiful enough to be chosen to serve as "Christmas trees" there is also a picture of Jesus, absolutely perfect, yet slain. That is not the end of the story though! As the cut tree is brought in and adorned with lights and ornaments to become the center of our celebration, Jesus, God in flesh, Who gave His earthly body as a sacrifice for my sin and yours, is now alive in a glorified state! This is our celebration - His victory over death, in order to purchase ours. What a picture in the tree, cut and then glorified! 

Fabric  

The first thing to adorn our Christmas tree is fabric, lovely gold and white mesh fabric that covers the naked areas of the trunk of the tree. It is wound around the trunk of the tree a reminder of how so many little things can be woven together to make something both beautiful and strong.  Standing firm, providing support, and giving a backdrop to illuminate things that will be placed in front of them. 
Our faith is like that. It is comprised of many things woven together by the hand of God that each provide us strength to face whatever comes before us that day.  The gold of His sovereignty (He is King) and the white of His washing of my sin all woven together encompass all my being. From head to toe I am covered with Him and nothing will touch me except through Him.  
Moreover, Christ is like that. The gold of His sovereignty and the white of His perfect sinlessness is all wound up in Him. Everlasting life, King and perfection all pictured on the tree.


Cords 
Next come the cords to be draped just in front of the gold and white mesh. Mine are a multitude of little gold beads held together by strands of thread. In them can be reflected the many, many believers all held together with the common cord of Christ. They are draped all around the tree some on high branches, some on lower ones. Perhaps this could be a picture of the bride of Christ all crowned with golden crowns, standing in His presence, their only job reflecting Him.

Cross
Now it is time for the ornaments. This is a glass cross that I painted some years ago. There are many on the tree of glass wood or metal. I include them because the cross is the ultimate reason for the Christmas tree. We celebrate His birth because of His death on the cross that paid the ransom sin held over me. So, although His cross was an awful and gruesome experience for Him, it became precious and beautiful for me.  These crosses remind me that precious baby came for the purpose of giving His life on another tree, and came anyway.

Prophecy
Passages from Isaiah and Matthew are written on some ornaments to help me remember that He keeps His Word. He is faithful to watch over it and perform it (Jeremiah 1). Both Old Testament and New Testament speak to Him as Creator, Redeemer and Savior. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1. Just as prophecy concerning Jesus was fulfilled, so will the prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled. This is my reminder I can count on it. So can you.


Angels
According to Luke 2, the night Jesus was born an angel “suddenly stood before” some shepherds, who were watching their flock, who first told them to “fear not”, then gave them “good news of great joy…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” had been born that very day! Then a “multitude” joined in who were “praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the highest.”  So, of course, my tree includes angels, just slightly less than a multitude. They are my reminder that God is watching, His angels are active, and my job should be to fear not, praise
Him, and glorify Him in everything.

Lights
With all the ornaments on the tree, it is time to turn on the lights. The tree is pretty without the lights, but when they come on it is a spectacular thing of beauty. I imagine it was like that when Christ was born. We know that shepherds were in the fields with their flocks when angels appeared “and the glory of the Lord shone around them.” God is light, and in Him there is no darkness” (1 John 1:5) and Christ is the light of the world, “the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” John 1:9.  In a dark room, the light of the tree is all that is visible.  Likewise, in the darkness of the world His light shines brightly. The lights on my tree remind me that although we are formerly of the darkness, now we are light in the Lord; and should walk as children of light (Ephesians 5), following Him and reflecting His light.


Ways to see Christ in a Christmas tree.
  • The fragrance of Christ permeates Christmas, and we can transfer that to others.
  • Our faith is based upon His sovereignty and sinlessness.
  • The tree although cut, is glorified and has new life.
  • His bride will be crowned and gathered to Him.
  • The tree celebrating His birth points us of the tree of His death.
  • The prophecy that has not been fulfilled will be, in the proper time.
  • Angels are His active messengers, and visible as He chooses.
  • He is the light of the world clouded in darkness that desperately needs His light.


Heavenly Father, we see the bustle of celebrations all around us and want to celebrate You in a personal way. Help us to use this time to draw near to You and point others to You as Your light shines through us. help us to be a beacon in a dark world, taking Your fragrance everywhere we go. Thank You for the amazing gift You have given us.



What about you? What traditions do you have that speak to the birth of Christ?


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