The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 33:14-16)
With families staying close to home amid pandemic restrictions, many are looking for safe ways to create meaningful memories during this holiday season. It is no wonder we are looking forward to favorite Christmas traditions that will help us feel a sense of normalcy. One of those annual traditions might possibly be picking out the family Christmas tree and decorating it together.
Along with the Advent wreath, the Christmas tree is another visual reminder that Christmas is coming. The custom was introduced in Germany in the 16th century. Legend tells that the evergreen was chosen and decorated with candles to represent God’s creation and the gift of God’s Son as the Light of the World. The tradition continues today as we set up evergreen trees in our homes, adorned with strings of lights and colorful ornaments.
A decorated tree tells a lot about a family. The ornaments themselves, sometimes handed down from generation to generation, reveal the story of Christmas’s past and of children growing up. They capture the interests of family members – where they go on vacations, what animals they like, and the things that are important to them. If you were to look closely at the branches on my tree, you would find an abundance of panda bears, mice, cardinals, palm trees, stars, and hand-painted ornaments. Each one has a story!
Like setting out nativity figures, marking the days before Christmas with an advent calendar, or singing carols, the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree can point us to scripture and the joy of Christ’s birth. The star that is placed atop the tree pointing towards heaven, reminds us of the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem to find the Christ-child. Angels represent the voice that spoke to the shepherds, and the multitude of Heavenly hosts that said, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” The ornaments remind us of God’s many gifts to us—especially the gift of Jesus. Strings of lights tell us that Christ is the Light of the World. As you gaze at your tree of green with its twinkling lights, maybe you will be reminded of the beauty of God’s creation and the hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ’s birth brings to the world.
Director of Children’s Ministry
Gratitude for God’s Creation
God who created the birds in the air, the fish in the sea,
the stars in the sky, and the trees in the ground,
bless this tree as we decorate it and make it a joyful symbol in our home.
May its branches remind us of the shade and shelter
you provide for us and for many creatures.
May its trunk remind us of your strength.
May its lights bring us peace.
May we remember your gift to us this season, the gift of the baby Jesus.