Sunday, December 6, 2009

For Unto Us a Child is Born

That song from the Messiah is probably one of my favorite Christmas songs. There are lots more…Angels We Have Heard on High, Tennessee Christmas, Emmanuel, Silent Night, I could go on and on. Just give me a stack of Christmas CD’s (especially some from the late 80’s and early 90’s – those are nostalgic AND wonderful!) and I will be happy for a very long time listening. I’m listening as I type, as a matter of fact!

On Saturday we cut down our Christmas tree! Even though my folks aren’t getting a tree this year (they’re going to CA), we invited them to come with us. The girls just couldn’t imagine picking out a tree without Grandma & Grandpa along – they’ve never done that before in their lives! So, we went to a tree farm very close to our house, which turned out to be just as wonderful as driving 45 minutes to the hills to our other favorite tree farm. We still got a beautiful tree, hot chocolate & donuts, and even saw a live camel to boot. We had a gorgeous sunny day – cold, but so much better than tromping around in the mud and rain, which we have done many times. We got a smaller tree this year, but it is definitely one of the prettiest we have ever had. Here are some photos of our trip:


The girls with their new ornaments: Elise has a chalkboard with ABC since she started school this year. Becca has a snowglobe with a big snowflake inside because she loved the snow so much last winter. Bethany and Sarah both have ornaments made by the GEMS in Africa. Awesome!

_MG_5672 We had so much fun decorating the tree today! The girls all have their own ornament boxes and anything that didn’t fit on the tree (since our tree was small, we did only red, green, and silver on the tree) they got to display in their rooms. They LOVED unwrapping each and every ornament and talking about it and then putting them on the tree. And they didn’t even get upset when I rearranged the ornaments so that they were evenly spaced or rehung them so that they were dangling less precariously. Becca was thrilled to be the angel girl this year! Next year – Elise!

I have not taken a picture of the fully lit and decorated tree yet. I have a bit of reading to do about how to best accomplish that and then I’ll post my hopefully successful results!

I think the Christmas tree is one of the most beautiful symbols used at Christmas time. From my research, I learned that a zealous young English missionary was the first person to use the evergreen tree as a symbol for God. Winfrid, who would later become known as Saint Boniface, used the tree as an object lesson. He taught that each point on the triangular-shaped tree represented a different Person of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Legend has it that one day Winfrid came upon a group of men offering a sacrifice to an oak tree as an act of worship. So angered was he by this idolatry that Winfrid swung his ax and felled the oak tree with one mighty blow. According to the tale, a fir tree eventually grew from the stump of the oak. Struck by this occurrence, the missionary proclaimed that the tiny new tree represented Jesus’ victory over death on the cross and the eternal life made available to us by the King of Kings.

Martin Luther is credited with adding lights to the tree. Luther was walking home alone through a forest one December night and the stars seemed to twinkle with an unusual brightness. Luther was so overwhelmed by the awesome beauty of God’s creation that an unexpected wave of worship took his breath away. Luther chopped down a small fir tree and set it up in his family’s living area. He wanted to capture that moment in the starlit forest, yet it wasn’t until he gathered the burning candles and carefully placed them on the branches that his children’s eyes became to dance and were opened to Psalm 19:1 “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship.”

A Renaissance stage director was the first to decorate an evergreen, which delighted the audiences. Germans decorated their trees like the ones on stage. Decorations became more elaborate over the years, the trees were so filled with the candy that they were called “Sugar Trees”. However, hidden among the other decorations were tiny round wafers of bread, representing the body of Christ that was broken on the cross for our sins. (All info taken from “The ADVENTure of Christmas” by Lisa Whelchel). (Wow. How many of you remember her? That’s a whole ‘nother blog post…)

The Christmas tree also reminds us of our eternal life, in the evergreen branches. The lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and that we also need to be His Light to the dark world. The tree stands tall and points us heavenward and the outstretched branches remind us to touch others with His Spirit.

Wow. Did you ever know that the tree could symbolize so many things? Next time you sit in your family room in the dark and gaze at the lights on your tree, think about those things and thank your Creator for His trees, His Lights, His body, His love, His gift of grace. We decorated our tree this afternoon. I think I will go gaze.


Mindy K said...

Thank you for the uplifting lesson! I loved eveery bit if the information you shared. Especially the part about the branches. I don't do new year's revolutions, but if I did I would resolve to be the best branch I could be.

michele said...

The tree does symbolize many things. What an interesting post! Your pics are so fun too!!