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Oh, Christmas Tree…

December 3, 2014

By Laura DiFatta


As is our little family’s tradition, this past Sunday night—on our way home from Thanksgiving with extended family in Mississippi—we stopped and picked out a live Christmas tree.  The scene usually goes down like this:  We arrive at the tree place, open the van doors—empty water bottles and snack wrappers pouring forth—and we run (well, three of us run) all crazy-eyed to the trees.  (The “crazy-eyed” look we have comes from being couped up in a vehicle for several hours listening to “Madagascar Christmas” over and over.  The running is, well, due to the same.

In the past, we have literally found “our tree” in the first one we unleash from it’s plastic bonds.  This time was different.  Ken lifted about fifteen trees while I carefully inspected each one.  There was “too skinny, too many gaps, too top-heavy, too short, big bottom but no top” (Ken was laughing by this point…)  In order to display our family’s Christmas treasures in the form of handprint reindeer and hand-painted and glittered snowflakes, the tree has to be great!

At long last, we both settled on one we thought would do beautifully.  Later that evening, as I unpacked and decompressed from the long day, I began to think about the Christmas tree.  It will be the foundation for the display of precious and personal keepsake ornaments for almost a whole month… inside our home!  No wonder we want it to be the perfect tree!

Those thoughts led me to a Bible verse that is very special to me.  Isaiah 61:3 speaks of believers in Christ when it says:  “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

I love the imagery used in the Bible. With the verse above in mind and the Fall beauty of the trees in our area in these past months, I am mindful of the parallel of believers displaying the splendor of God for others to see.  This parallel is also an easy one to grasp at Christmas-time with all the shining trees on display in homes and yards.

When God the Son came to earth to live among His created, He came humbly.  And He lived humbly serving others, seeking His Father’s heart, obeying God and ultimately laying down His perfect life… For us.

The tree that shines most brightly in all of human history was the one on which Jesus’ body was the adornment.  His greatest shining moment for our behalf was that of willing substitution, that of the most powerful burden-bearing, that of taking our sin-foulness on himself and taking the bottomless curse that sin and death had over us to the grave.

As we know, Jesus did not stay on that tree.  He conquered sin and death on that tree.   And He rose from death by the power of God never to die again. What looked like a helpless and abandoned criminal to many was the splendid glory of God to the Heavenly beings, who—using my imagination—must have been laughing and crying at the same time as they watched the Rescue Mission unfold.  The horror on display on that tree that was the ultimate hope and victory for all mankind.  It was The Rescue Mission at it’s most dramatic and heart-wrenching moment.  Perhaps for the angels, it was like when we watch our favorite movie drama, knowing that the ending will be good, but crying over hope-seems-lost, emotionally draining moments of dark before dawn.
On that tree, He rescued us.  Never has a tree displayed God’s splendor so brilliantly.

Displaying God’s splendor is not predictable, is it?

As we gaze at the beautiful, shining Christmas trees that are a part of celebrating Christ’s birth, let’s also remember there was another tree… There always was another tree.  Jesus knew it and God the Father knew it—from the start.
And let’s remember that what happened on that tree made all the difference.

“My mind is on shining…
As bright as the Christmas tree I’ll be gazing at this December.
Help me remember, Lord, that shining like you is different.  Shining for your accomplishes eternal things.”

“Light us up Lord!
May we display Your splendor and shine for You!
And as we have trials or walk beside those who do, may our lights shine even brighter
because that’s what you made us to do.”

Laura

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:8

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”  James 1:17

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