Throughout the years that I was privileged to pastor a church, we always started the Christmas season with a special evening service. The Sunday afternoon following Thanksgiving we would take the children of the church to a tree farm and let them choose a Christmas tree for the church sanctuary. When we returned to the church, we would spend the rest of the afternoon putting the tree in the sanctuary and hanging lights on it. Usually we would finish just as the rest of the congregation arrived for the evening service.
We would begin worship that night by singing Christmas hymns and reading the story of Jesus’ birth. Each member had been asked to bring an ornament from home that held a special meaning to them. As an act of worship, we would then take time for everyone to hang their ornaments on the tree. Then I would read a special story about the journey of the Christ Child from the stable to the cross.
As we brought our time of worship to an end, myself as the pastor would hang my special ornament on the tree. My ornament was three spike nails fashioned in the shape of a cross. But I would not hang this cross on the outer branches of the tree. I would hide the cross out of sight on an inner branch. The hidden cross was a reminder that Christ Child whose birth we were celebrating with a Christmas tree had another tree in His future. One day the Son of Man would purchase for us the gift of eternal life by sacrificing His life on that tree shaped like a cross.
So this Christmas season, as we navigate the hubris of flying reindeer, jolly old elves and a little drummer boy, let’s not forget the true meaning of Christmas. Let the beautiful lights remind us that Jesus is the Light of the world and the evergreen trees shall symbolize our hope of eternal life. Underneath the trees will be beautifully wrapped gifts, but the greatest gift of all was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The Angels in Heaven will shout these words: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Douglas & Deborah Huff
From Down Where The Pavement Ends