Advent: The Christmas Tree

Services

Sunday - 9:15 AM Sunday School, 10:30 AM Worship Service

by: Denise Robinson

12/22/2021

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"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but will have eternal life." (John 3:16).

At the heart of most people's Christmas decorations is a tree. Some cut them down, others buy them at special lots, and many others unpack them from boxes. Each year millions of trees appear in homes, stores, schools, and parks as a time-honored symbol of the holidays. Depending upon the use of lighting and ornaments, tress can appear traditional or modern. Some are just inches tall and sit on tables, and others reach toward the skies. Large or small, real or artificial, the tree is essential to the holidays. This year, after your tree is in place, perhaps it's time to take a deeper look at why the evergreen is a part of the celebration of a Savior's birth and how we can use it to reflect on God's greatest promise for us. The story begins with a monk.

Boniface was an early Christian missionary. Only six hundred years after Christ walked on the earth, this priest from Devonshire, England traveled across Europe sharing the story of Jesus.  On one of his trips, he came across a band of men gathered around a large oak tree, preparing to sacrifice a small boy to the god Thor. Legend has it that the alarmed missionary, in an attempt to stop the child's murder, rushed forward and struck the tree with his fist. The mighty oak fell to the ground, revealing a small fir tree just behind it. Having captured the men's attention, Boniface explained that the evergreen tree stood for the eternal life offered by Christ, and that the fir tree's triangular shape represented the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not only was the child saved but the men became Christians.

Following Boniface's lead, other missionaries began using the evergreen tree as a symbol of eternal life. By 1200, many Christians embraced this symbolism to the point they brought trees into their homes at Christmas as a way of remembering the reason God came  to earth in the form of a child. As times passed, more elements were added. Martin Luther added a candle (our Christmas lights have taken its place) to represent the light that came into darkness when Christ was born. Red decorations were used as a way of remembering the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for our sins,

This year when you look at a Christmas tree, reflect on what it means to you. Don't allow your eyes to leave the tree without remembering God's promise in John 3:16. The green in that tree stands for everlasting life.

Ace Collins tells the story of a song called, "O Denneboom." By the Middle Ages, most people in Germany were bringing trees into their homes at Christmas. During the dark days of winter, just the act of putting the evergreen tree in a home and smelling its sweet scent lifted spirits. Families not only offered prayers around the trees, but they sang familiar carols. An ancient folk song, originally titled, O Denneboom, was written:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, 
thy leaves are so unchanging.
Not only green when summer's here,
but also when tis cold and drear.


O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!
How richly God hath decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
and trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!
How richly God hath decked thee!
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but will have eternal life." (John 3:16).

At the heart of most people's Christmas decorations is a tree. Some cut them down, others buy them at special lots, and many others unpack them from boxes. Each year millions of trees appear in homes, stores, schools, and parks as a time-honored symbol of the holidays. Depending upon the use of lighting and ornaments, tress can appear traditional or modern. Some are just inches tall and sit on tables, and others reach toward the skies. Large or small, real or artificial, the tree is essential to the holidays. This year, after your tree is in place, perhaps it's time to take a deeper look at why the evergreen is a part of the celebration of a Savior's birth and how we can use it to reflect on God's greatest promise for us. The story begins with a monk.

Boniface was an early Christian missionary. Only six hundred years after Christ walked on the earth, this priest from Devonshire, England traveled across Europe sharing the story of Jesus.  On one of his trips, he came across a band of men gathered around a large oak tree, preparing to sacrifice a small boy to the god Thor. Legend has it that the alarmed missionary, in an attempt to stop the child's murder, rushed forward and struck the tree with his fist. The mighty oak fell to the ground, revealing a small fir tree just behind it. Having captured the men's attention, Boniface explained that the evergreen tree stood for the eternal life offered by Christ, and that the fir tree's triangular shape represented the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not only was the child saved but the men became Christians.

Following Boniface's lead, other missionaries began using the evergreen tree as a symbol of eternal life. By 1200, many Christians embraced this symbolism to the point they brought trees into their homes at Christmas as a way of remembering the reason God came  to earth in the form of a child. As times passed, more elements were added. Martin Luther added a candle (our Christmas lights have taken its place) to represent the light that came into darkness when Christ was born. Red decorations were used as a way of remembering the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for our sins,

This year when you look at a Christmas tree, reflect on what it means to you. Don't allow your eyes to leave the tree without remembering God's promise in John 3:16. The green in that tree stands for everlasting life.

Ace Collins tells the story of a song called, "O Denneboom." By the Middle Ages, most people in Germany were bringing trees into their homes at Christmas. During the dark days of winter, just the act of putting the evergreen tree in a home and smelling its sweet scent lifted spirits. Families not only offered prayers around the trees, but they sang familiar carols. An ancient folk song, originally titled, O Denneboom, was written:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, 
thy leaves are so unchanging.
Not only green when summer's here,
but also when tis cold and drear.


O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!
How richly God hath decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
and trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas tree! O Christmas tree!
How richly God hath decked thee!
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