Christmas Trees and the Cross

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Our family loves Christmas. We love the sight, sounds and smells of this season. We love a candlelight dinner with Christmas music playing in the background. We love hot apple cider and fresh baked cookies. We love the laughter of sharing old Christmas memories. We are traditionalist at heart and the traditions that my wife and I established have carried over to our now grown and married children. When they call about coming home they usually also include some Christmas request. "Dad, have the hot apple cider ready and the Christmas music keyed up on the stereo" they say.
One of our greatest treasurers however, is our Christmas Tree. When our kids were younger we would go to a "Tree Farm" and pick out the perfect tree for Christmas. Some of our favorite memories are of me trying to keep the tree upright after getting it in the house. Or of us stringing the lights (which would invariably go out about half way through the process).  We now have an artificial, 'prelit' tree and my wife and I think it's great. However, it took some time for the kids to appreciate an 'artificial prelit' tree as much as we do. Please understand this is not why the Christmas Tree is a treasure to us. It's not the size or shape of the tree; nor the number and color of the lights that makes it a treasure. No, it's what we hang upon the tree that gives it such prominence.  There is an ornament for "Baby's First Christmas 1979"; one for "Baby's First Christmas 1983"; and "Baby's First Christmas 1987".  These ornaments mark the addition of each child to our family for those respective years. There are other ornaments that mark the passage of time in our family. There are old trucks with "Christmas Trees" in the bed. There is an ornament of an angel playing the flute. There is an ornament of "The Three Stooges" in golf attire. Each of these ornaments were given to our children when they were much younger. One ornament can no longer be placed on the tree since it fell and broke a few years ago. However, we cannot bring ourselves to throw it away because it's the first ornament my wife and I bought when we celebrated our first Christmas together in 1976. There is an ornament from 1978 that says "Every Heart Goes Home For Christmas". That is the year my wife and I spent in Illinois by ourselves and unable to be home with family for Christmas. You probably would look at our tree and not see it as the treasure it is. These sentimental ornaments may mean nothing to you, but to us they are priceless because they 'spark a memory' and they cause us to reflect back over the life God has given us.
This brings me to the real point of these musings. Do you know God has a favorite tree and that He hung the most precious ornament of His Son upon that Tree? The Cross is God's Giving Tree to mankind. Jesus, God's Son was crucified upon that cruel cross and all your sin and my sin was nailed to that cross as well (Col 2:14). He, who knew no sin, became sin that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). Hallelujah, What A Savior!
Just one more thing about the ornaments on our tree. Each year, as we open the crates which house our treasured ornaments until its time to bring them out for another Christmas, there is one ornament that I place at the top near the trunk of the tree. It's a six to eight inch replica of a Roman Spike with a red ribbon tied to it. It is discretely placed at the trunk of the tree to remind me and my family of the price Jesus paid for our salvation. May we never take it for granted.
I encourage you to "Deck the Halls", "Bring Out the Holly", enjoy the Hot Apple Cider and Candlelight Dinners! But never forget why He came and why we celebrate Christmas. GOD GAVE HIS ONLY SON so that He may receive MANY SONS!
Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; NASB