Saturday, December 18, 2021

Like a Christmas Tree

At the beginning of Advent I read through a book I found in my church library. It was Max Lucado’s Because of Bethlehem. I really haven’t read much by Lucado, apart from his children’s books. But there it was, so I thought I’d see what I could glean for this year’s Advent reflections.

I read this passage nearly three weeks ago. But today it preached to my heart. There are things I don’t understand about where God has placed me in this new season. I feel a bit like the forlorn Christmas tree in the beloved TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I feel misplaced, not quite right for the task in front of me, a little lonely. But that is not how the tree ends up. Because Charlie Brown cares. And he cares for the tree.

Many of us decorate a tree to celebrate Christmas. I’m not here to discuss the historical roots (pun intended) of the practice, both secular and sacred. But just as we can draw Truth from Creation, so too can we render it from the image of a Christmas tree.

Allow me to quote at length from Lucado’s book:

In the manger God loves you; through the cross God saves you. But has he taken you to his home? Not yet. He was work for you to do. He wants the world to see what God can do with those purchased through Christ’s sacrifice.

So . . . he prunes you.

He takes an ax to your prejudices and clippers to your self-pity, and when there is a tilt in your character that needs to be removed, he’s been known to pull of the old Black & Decker. Jesus said
, "My Father is the gardener . . . He trims and cleans every branch that produced fruit so that it will produce even more fruit" (John 15:1-2 NCV).

Once He stabilizes us, the decorating begins. He festoons us with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). He crowns us. Most people crown their Christmas trees with either an angel or a star. God uses both. He sends His angels to protect us and His Word as a star to guide us.

Then he surrounds us with His grace. We become His depot, the distribution point of God’s gifts. He wants no one to leave our presence empty-handed. Some people find the gift of salvation. For others the gifts are smaller: a kind word, a good deed. But all the gifts are from God.

Our task is to stand tall in His love, secure in our place, sparkling in kindness, surrounded by His goodness, freely giving to all who come our way.

You, me, and the Christmas tree. Picked, purchased, and pruned.

(p. 125-127)

May we trust in God’s work, rest in His care, grow with His love, and find hope in His Light. Now and forever more.


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