Have you ever wondered why we bring a tree into our house at Christmas time? I did a little reading on its more recent history and there certainly is a time and a place that the modern Christmas tree began...
BUT... I also found something in antiquity (in the book of Leviticus of all places) that mentioned using tree foliage to decorate "houses." Listen to God's explicit instruction to Moses concerning the Israelite's yearly celebration, the Feast of Tabernacles:
You shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you shall take foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord... Leviticus 23:39-40.
The Israelites were to put all of these beautiful branches in and around their tent to signify His goodness to them as they wandered in the desert for forty years. He protected them, He provided for them, He was with them both day and night...
And now, do we not have even more reason to celebrate God with us?
He dwelt among the Israelites in a tent; He dwells among us in our hearts through Jesus Christ.
He has brought light into our darkness, hope into our existence, Life into our soul.
It is now our turn to decorate with meaning and rejoice before the Lord!
So yes, a tree is in my house! And it is adorned with lights and balls and berries and bows. For it represents the abundant Life I have found in my Savior. He became poor (think of the tree He died on, the old rugged cross), that I might become rich (the tree of Life!).
I am rich because my Wonderful Counselor, my Mighty God, my Eternal Father, my Prince of Peace has filled my hollow heart with love and joy and peace. You see, it's not really about the tangible, temporary gifts under the tree, the gift is the Tree, the ever-green-abundant-life-giving Tree.
Rejoice, rejoice, again, I say rejoice.
I challenge you to do two things this Christmas; actually, I think God does:
One, like our ancient brothers and sisters, bring in the foliage of beautiful trees into your home. As you set your Christmas tree up in its prominent place, worship the goodness of your God-- because He is with us!
And then two, go to the world, your world, and tell them why they have a tree in their house; keep this in mind, they are dying to know.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
Your creation speaks...without words! The sun shouts, "Marvelous Maker;" the moon proclaims, "Faithful Sustainer," the stars sing, "Light of the World!" Cause each of us to gaze at your beauty, recognize you as the Author and Artist, and then worship you with reverence, all day and all night. Amen.