Got the tree up on Friday. It took a couple of hours. All the branches had to be fluffed out and hung on the pole/trunk. Then every decoration collected over all the years carefully arranged on the limbs. There are several strands of lights, garland, balls, bows, beads, and tiny angels, sleighs and Santas. There are ornaments handmade by Sandy throughout her childhood and finally, the paperplate angel perched upon the very tiptop.
So I'm sitting in a darkened living room Sunday morning, admiring this work of yuletide art and the thought occurs to me: "What a symbol of paganism!" I'm not really speaking of the origins of the Christmas tree tradition, but this: Is all this gaud and clutter representative of what the holiday has become? Am I advocating that you (or I) take down your Christmas tree immediately?
No. But really, what does all this have to do with Jesus? He might not have even been born on December 25th, right?
But he was born.
Christmas is a time for family. Of all the holidays, this one, set in the dead cold of winter is the one when families come together to celebrate. They may be separated by hundreds of miles, but they plan and expend great effort to meet in one place. Why is this?
I think it is this:
The human family was broken by the fall and so our individual families. Father striving against son, daughter against mother and brother against sister; holding on to hateful grudges and nursing bitterness in their hearts.
But the the birth of Jesus signalled the birth of healing and the end of brokenness.
For how can I know the Christ of God and the forgiveness he offers without myself offering forgiveness?
I will keep my Christmas tree and continue to raise it up and drape it in decoration. But let this be my prayer: that this tree remind me that the babe, who was born in a stable, and lived a perfect life on my behalf and died in my stead, arose and now stands at the right hand of God the Father and intercedes for me.
And let this be my cause for celebration.