“You cut down a tree and then you dress its corpse with candles?” ~Olaf
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. Why would you sing about a Christmas tree? And why do we even have Christmas trees? We chop down a perfectly healthy tree, drag it inside, dress it with lights and ornaments as it slowly dies. Looks like the work of a madman. People often explain the tree as, “an old pagan holiday that was Christianized.” But there has to be a reason why this madness spread. If you mediate on the Christmas tree, you will see that it holds many lessons about the Christ Child.
Evergreen: This tree doesn’t lose its leaves; in the dead of winter it stays fresh and green. The human race was dead in sin like a forest in winter. Jesus comes to give us true life, eternal life. He is evergreen, and he wants us to be evergreen.
Lights: Jesus is the Light of the World, the light that the darkness cannot overcome (see John 1). When we let Jesus into our hearts, he frees us from darkness and makes us shine with God’s light.
Ornaments: We hang beautiful, precious, and sentimental things on the tree; our favorites often remind us of childhood. Jesus holds all good things, our past and our future. He is always with us, and he cares about the things that are precious to us.
Candy Canes: Their shape reminds us of a shepherd’s crook. Shepherds greeted the baby in Bethlehem. He is a descendant of the shepherd-king David. Christ is the Good Shepherd sent to lead God’s flock. His sheep hear his voice and follow Him.
The Star or the Angel: We top the tree with a star or an angel, both images from His birth, and images of Heaven. They remind us that we are on a journey to heaven. We must keeps our lives pointed towards Eternity.
The Severed Tree: The tree is cut down in order to give us life and light. Jesus, too, was cut down on the cross for our sins. The tree makes a sacrifice for you; it gives its life to brighten your Christmas. Never forget the sacrifice that Jesus made for you.
We need to be reminded over and over of the true meaning of Christmas. We need time to let it sink into our hearts. Put your nativity scene in a place where you can sit and reflect on it by the glow of the Christmas tree. Keep your tree up through the 12 days of Christmas, until the Wise Men come on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. Then bring home blessed chalk from Church and bless your home. You might even sing a hymn: O Christmas Tree!
Christmas peace and joy,
~Fr. Joel Sember