We love having a Christmas tree that is cut just for our Christmas celebration. Even if there are evergreen needles all over the floor, we like the fresh smell, and a little bit of the outdoors brought inside. But it is the lights and all the sparkly and family ornaments that make it so special.
- What do lights symbolize about God?
- What does a star symbolize?
- What do your ornaments mean…anything special?
- Do you hang candy canes on your tree?
- Do you have a Jesse tree?
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] long time ago, someone felt it would symbolize God’s gift of everlasting life to have an evergreen tree in the home, and the story is that Martin Luther put candles on a fir tree to shine like the stars in the sky. Whatever the beginnings of these decorations, most of the traditions came from the land of Germany.
There is a similar tradition at another time of year that is a Jewish feast called the feast of Tabernacles. In the harvest month of Tishri (September), they are busy making a “booth” of branches and decorating it with plants and leaves; families eat together and are commanded to rejoice! It is also time to share with others less fortunate. That is very similar to Christmas time.
So what do we think about when decorating things with plants, eating meals together as a family, and making an effort to be joyful and give joy to others? Is it work, or are we stressed out trying to make it “just right”? Are we frantically trying to fill every moment with something to do? Or have we settled once and for all that it isn’t the wrapping and ribbon, it is the gift of God at the center.
Christmas is a time when we make happy memories, and looking at the way God wanted his people to have feasts, it looks to me like making those good memories is important to him.
The message that Jesus shared with mankind is that God is a loving Father who wants to know and bless his kids. Many people don’t know that about him. They think he is always angry and trying to catch them doing something wrong.
[box type=”info”]How do you think of God? Would you like to discover more of who he is as someone who created you, and all the people of your family, the animals, and the evergreen trees and flowers? That makes God seem very interesting to me, what about you?[/box]
Big People Section
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ometimes the trimmings get in the way. That is a fact. They are supposed to be something added as a garnish, but we can create a view that makes them an entire meal. In that case perhaps we should look at our Christmas time, or maybe our entire year, and ask “Where’s the beef?”.
In other words, do we only fill our celebration with frivolities instead of giving worship to the Savior of our souls? For worshiping the Christ is what the Angels, the Shepherd, the Wise Men, Mary and Joseph did, and all who realized what the Christmas Day was truly about.
Where is the central part of what is truly important with what we do with our time, how we spend our money, or who we spend our time with? Is focused on what is eternal… or on temporary things which are soon gone?
Some of My Memories
When I think of Christmas trees I mostly have happy memories, even though there were the times my Dad ended up cursing those tangled lights that he was supposed to hang on the tree, while we kids impatiently waited to decorate it with all our favorite bulbs and figures. But thereafter, many were the nights I remember falling asleep looking at that beautiful sparkling tree and listening to the Christmas albums playing on the stereo.
Some years we visited extended family, and my Aunt liked to do Christmas in style. She was very particular about her giant family room tree having each strand of tinsel hung just so. No flinging bunches at the tree like we did at home!
But as fun as these things were, and a good as the memories were, it was the family love and closeness of these times, the holy hush of Christmas service and prayers that stayed with me throughout the years. This turned my heart towards God and gave me a sense of his care, and reminded me of these times when he seemed very near.
I think one of the most important Christmas customs we can have is to give others that sense of God’s care for them, and to bring him near through our celebrations.
Do you have ideas for that? Let’s seek for new creativity in sensing God’s closeness and care.
[box type=”shadow”]Heavenly Father,
We’d like for each one of us and those whose lives we touch to sense more of you and your loving presence today and all this week. Help us to know that you are there when we give generously to others, and that you are near to those who visit in nursing homes or hospitals. Help us to realize that you are with us when we smile at children and give someone a hug… in all the things we do, you are with us.
We love you, and we know you gave us Jesus because you so loved the world.