I have always loved how so many of our standard, seemingly “secular” Christmas traditions actually point right back to the true meaning of Christmas. When you’ve done traditions for so long, they seem normal to you: things like hanging lights, baking treats and putting up a Christmas tree.
This year, we brought our two-year-old son to a Christmas tree farm to cut down our own tree. He’s a very curiously little guy and so I kept explaining things, “We have to find the perfect tree and then we cut it down and put it INSIDE our house and decorate it!”
He watched with glee as my husband cut it down and we yelled “Timber!” as it fell to the ground with a giant thud. He was also delighted to help daddy wheel it to our car, but that’s where the confusion began.
“Tree on top of car?” He kept saying perplexed as we drove all the way home. He seemed even more confused as we pulled it off the car and dragged it inside the house to set up.
That’s when I began to realize how truly bizarre it is that we take something like a tree completely out of its natural habitat and put it somewhere totally out of the ordinary; cut off from sunshine, cut off even from its very root system. That tree is now completely dependent upon us to be watered, cared for and admired for the short season that it can thrive now that it has been cut down. It’s put there simply to mark a season and allow it’s peaceful light to glow all through the night and fill our home with a fresh aroma.
And then I thought of Jesus...
“He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.” John 1:3-4
The same lord of all creation, the one who was there when time began; he allowed himself to be cut down from perfect intimacy with God the father, he took a strange journey out the glory of heaven and into an ordinary home, he allowed himself to be at the mercy of mere humans, he came to permeate every bit of our existence with his light and his hope.
But unlike the Christmas tree that withers and dies, becoming useless to us as it is dragged back out of our homes; Jesus’ death had a different ending.
He didn’t just come to be with us for a season. He left the glory of heaven, took on human flesh, and died to make a way to be with us forever.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5
Every time I look at my Christmas tree this year, I’m struck by how perplexing it is that the Lord of all would choose to leave his glory just to be with us. I never want that to seem normal. I pray it fills you with awe as you dwell on that truth as well.
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14