St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Christmas Tree Helps Us Remember

Text: I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. (Psalm 143:5)

There are very few people with what you would call a photographic memory. Those are the people who look at something one time and they never forget it. Most of us, if we want to remember something need to have an aid in doing so. It may be making a list so that we do not forget something at the grocery store. We can email ourselves, so that we remember an important meeting. We write things on the calendar so that we do not forget them. Worst comes to worst, there is the tried and true method of tying a string around our finger. If we want to remember, we use aids to help us.

There are many things that are associated with our Christmas celebration that can help us in this same way. One of the most prominent is the Christmas tree. There is good reason to put it in a prominent place in our homes. There are many things that we can be reminded of as we look at the tree. First of all, there is the fact that, if it were real, it is wood. We cannot say with any certainty that the manger where Jesus was placed was made of wood. I know that it is that way in our nativity sets, but it could have been made of stone, as well. However, there is wood that is connected with the life of Jesus that is very important to us. The wood is the wood of the cross. Every time we see our tree, we are reminded of the reason that Jesus came to the earth. He came to the earth to be our Savior. He is a Savior that we so desperately needed. He came to pay the price for our sins. You and I sin every day. We sin against God when our patience with each other has worn out and we hurt others feeling with our words or lack of words. We sin against God when we push him aside to get to all of the things that we want to do in our days. By all rights, we should spend our eternity apart from God.

However, Jesus came to the earth some 2,000 years ago to serve as our Savior. He was perfect during his lifetime as our Substitute. He did what we cannot do. Then, to pay the price that God demands for our sins, Jesus went to that cross made of wood. The apostle Paul put it this way in Galatians 3, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’” He became a curse for us, that is to say, he was cursed in our place. He suffered the torments of hell that we deserved. He came to suffer all of this so that we would never have to. We also know that beyond the wood of the cross is the stone of the tomb in which Jesus was laid. Yet, death could not contain Jesus. He broke its power and showed to all the world, to you and to me, that he had done everything necessary for our salvation. The tree points us to the cross and reminds us that Jesus is our Savior.

We also note the fact that our Christmas trees are evergreens. While everything else seems is brown and dead looking at this time of year, the evergreen stands in sharp contrast. It seems to be the only living thing in an otherwise dead world. Green reminds us of life. Jesus said of his mission to the earth, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have life. We have life to the full. We will experience this full life when we are with the Lord forever in heaven. There we will never lack for anything. There we will have peace and joy, such as we can only imagine at this point in time. There anything that is currently making our lives difficult will be gone. We will have life to the full when we reach heaven, and we have life to the full right now. We have a life that has purpose and meaning. So many today are wandering around, looking for their purpose in life. You and I have a purpose in life. When we think of all that Jesus has done for us, we want to thank him. One of the ways that we can do this is by the way that we live our lives. We look for opportunities to show our love as we obey what we tells us in his word. We do not earn anything by doing this. We simply are thanking him for all he has done for us. Our life here also has meaning because we realize that God loved us so much that he did everything necessary so that we would be with him forever in heaven. Surely, he will be with us every day, guiding and directing our lives, providing all that we need for this life. The very color of the Christmas tree reminds us of the life that is ours now and the life that is to come.

We also look at the lights on the tree. How beautifully they shine, especially if the room is darkened! Jesus said of himself, “I am the light of the world.” We were wandering about in the world, hopelessly lost, until Jesus came with his saving message and shone brightly on us. We were led from the darkness into which we were born into the light of his presence. The fact that he was to be the light of the world was already prophesied in the book of Isaiah, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” We also note that Jesus said of us, his believers, “You are the light of the world.” Think of how lovely the lights of the Christmas tree shine in a dark room. There is a contrast between the dark and the light. When we live as Christians, we are like those lights shining in the dark room. We are given the opportunity to live our Christian faith, so that others might see this. We do not do so for personal glory or recognition. We do so to thank God and use the opportunities that God affords us to tells others of what he has done for us. Again, Jesus in speaking of us, said, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” The lights on the tree remind us of our Savior, as well as the task we are to do.

Next, I would call to your attention what is found under the Christmas tree. There we find gifts, gifts that are carefully chosen, gifts that come from the heart. Again, what a beautiful reminder of the meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ is the Father’s gift to the world. It was carefully chosen and precious, for only Jesus could be the world’s Savior. This was a one-of-a-kind gift. It was also a gift that came straight from the heart of the Father. We think of the familiar words of John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God gave us this gift with no merit or worthiness on our part. He gave his Son for us as the greatest gift the world has ever known. Every gift that is under the tree reminds us of the gift that God gave to us.