Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Tree

The tree has long been part of the Christmas tradition for most households, but have you ever stopped to think, "Why do we put trees in our houses this time of year?"  I'm aware that the tree has secular origins, but we do not view it that way today.  Instead, the tree can be used as opportunity to see a snapshot of God's redemptive plan.  We are a celebrating people with much to rejoice over. 

Each year our family tromps through the woods searching for the perfect tree.  It takes years for a tree to grow in our climate, not like the wet soil of Oregon where a forest grows quickly, almost like weeds.  And so the sacrifice is great.  But herein lies the first lesson of the tree.

The tree has spent years making a start on life and has just gotten established in its root system when we decide to cut it down only to display in our house for a month.  It seems such a trivial cause for such a great sacrifice.  Likewise, Jesus was just reaching His prime when He was cut off from life and descendants, but His life was not a waste.  It was given so we might know God with us, Christmas in our hearts.  

The trek to get the tree is always a bit fearsome.  We drive to the hills where the altitude is considerably higher and then go off road where the snow pack can be treacherous, or in some cases, the mud is soft and worse than the snow for sliding.  After we've hiked around for some time it is quite a feat to all agree on the same tree, but usually mom's choice is the trump card.

I'm reminded that God chose Jesus since before the creation of the world to be our Savior from sin, to die for us.  Jesus had to climb the hill of Golgotha, a hill that took great effort, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  Jesus risked all for our sakes.  He held nothing back.

We tie our tree to the car or trailer and secure it so it will not fall off on the ride home.  So Jesus was secured to the cross.  He could have removed Himself from it with just a word from His mouth, but He chose to cling to it, for our sake.

Then as that tree is set upright in our house I'm reminded that all of Scripture points toward the cross of Christ and our great salvation.  His coming was humble, simple . . . His death bare and brutal, yet set in a place for all to see.

The branches then become a support for everything else, the lights, the ornaments, the beads, the tinsel, and even the cranberries with popcorn.  So all the law and the prophets hang from Jesus in His fulfillment of them and death on the cross.  Jesus supports all that weight.

Jesus, the Light of the world, shines brightly in a dark place.  

 Just one drop of His blood can wash our sins away.

And we are made white as snow.
Jesus, the King of Kings, reigns in our hearts and is the center. 

He is our source of joy.

It was for people Jesus came, for all of us.

And the Father of lights takes great delight in His children.
He gives good and perfect gifts.

Angels guard our steps and were the first to proclaim the good news.  They long to look into this great salvation that is offered us.  

And so our Christmas tree is yet another reminder of what God has done for us.  I'm not saying that everything about our celebration has to have spiritual meaning.  We have traditions and do things just for fun and beauty as well.  But the tree can easily be used as a teaching tool and aid in family worship of our Creator.

This tree, which comes from the forest of winter, we find among the ashen, who have been stripped of glory, laid bare in their branches.  Without Christ, we are left to winter's bleak outlook.

But Jesus . . .  is life eternal.

The Christmas tree in all its decorated grandeur reminds us of the glory of Christ.  He laid all of heaven's splendor aside to be born in the lowliest of places, but God has exalted Him to the highest place.  Someday we will see His full glory.  Yet even now He reveals glimpses of His glory if we have eyes to see.

Our traditions can be used to make God big in front of our children, opening their hearts to God's character and marvelous work, stimulating worship of Him.

Come, let us adore Him.    

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