God's Christmas Tree
Hope Weekly 12-16-13
GOD’S CHRISTMAS TREE
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is decorating the Christmas tree. The day after Thanksgiving, Sheri and I pull out all the ornaments and cover every possible spot on our nine foot, 1,000 twinkly-light, fake Christmas tree (yes, we succumbed to the Arizona malaise that precludes using a real tree cut down in Bend, Oregon in early August). Sometimes we even spray a can of cheesy-smelling deodorizer called “Pines-in-the-Woods” to trick our senses into believing we still live in Minnesota. But the tree is still really important to us; it’s a tradition that carries many wonderful memories.
Where did the whole Christmas tree tradition come from? There are many legends surrounding the tree, including Saturnalia of the ancient Romans and their use of evergreens over the door during the days of pagan festivals. Some find the origin of the Christmas tree among the Druids of Northern Europe who were tree worshippers during the Dark Ages. Another is William Muir Auld who refers to the Roman Virgil who had a custom of placing images on evergreens at certain times of the year. Still another legend was about George Jacob, an Arabian geographer of the 10th century who related a story about the night Christ was born in which the forest, despite ice and snow, burst into bloom.
However, the first mention of the Christmas tree as made by an unknown citizen of Strasburg in 1604: “At Christmas, they set up fir trees in the parlors in Strasburg and hang thereon roses cut out of many colored paper.”
The whole idea was doubtless German in origin and some even attribute its birth to martin Luther. Dr. Johann Dannhauer of Germany made this interesting observation many years ago: “Whence comes the custom of the tree I know not. It is child’s play. Far better were it to point the children to the spiritual cedar tree, Jesus Christ.”
What Dannhauer was referring to was the fact that, indeed, God has a Christmas tree. It’s not as pretty as our nine foot beauty, it’s not laden with tinsel and ornaments and lights. And it doesn’t smell wonderful. It is, however, a tree that draws all people into a drama of light and life: “Jesus himself bore out sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead in sins, should live unto righteousness.” (1 Peter 2:24)
It is on God’s Christmas tree, the cross, where God’s matchless love and indescribable grace are seen. Under God’s Christmas tree are amazing gifts which are offered to all those who believe and trust Christ as Savior and Lord. Just look at the wondrous gifts under this tree in Romans 5:1-11; peace with God (vs. 1); access by faith into this grace (vs. 2); the hope of glory (vs. 2); God’s love (vs. 5); the gift of the Holy Spirit (vs. 5); and joy (vs. 11). What incredible gifts. These are yours, sitting under God’s Christmas tree, the cross of Jesus Christ. But in order to experience them, you must open them.
This Advent season, I want to encourage each of you to consider God’s Christmas tree and the gifts of love that He has made available to you. Jesus died on the cross so that you might experience life instead of death; light instead of darkness. And these gifts are free…
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that
Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
When you look under your tree this Christmas, don’t forget God’s Christmas tree that produces gifts that will last forever.
Jesus lives and loves,