O, Christmas Tree
Between the hustle and bustle and jingle jangle of the season, we can feel a bit overwhelmed.
It's all in good fun, but merry and bright may not be the right words to describe our disposition right now.
It's more like hurry and flight.
We have a deadline - the 25th is quickly approaching - and there's just not enough time in the day.
So let's use this time to refocus a bit. If you haven't read Part 1 or 2, I'd encourage you to give those a quick read. It was all about seasons and lights and Griswold's and Texas reindeer. And we tied it back to Jesus. Again, it's worth the read.
We're realizing now the reason we are obsessed with the concept of home for the holidays is because deep down - deep, deep down - we long for love, joy, hope and peace that this world can't give.
We long for home because we long for Him. We're created with this longing. It's natural. It's ordained. It's part of us. It's actually written on our hearts.
In our time leading up to Christmas, we see how even the decorations and lights we place around our home - the things we prep, primp, purchase and place in our homes - draw us to something greater.
O, Christmas Tree
Moving to Oklahoma, the one thing that struck me more than anything is that there are...
Now, if you visit the Sooner state from the north or southeast, you may think, "What is she talking about? There are not that many trees in Oklahoma."
And you're right. But, given that I grew up in West Texas, I consider the trees plentiful here! It's all about perspective.
So I've recently discovered a new Christmas tradition since living here. I love it so much. To me, it's like getting to live out a Hallmark movie.
It's a fun, little thing called a Christmas tree farm.
It's so fun!
For my fellow West Texans, it's similar to a pumpkin patch but treeeeees!
Trees everywhere! Tall trees, fat trees, skinny trees, blue-ish trees, green trees, Charlie Brown trees, and everything in between. You can pick out wreaths and mantel sprays - all while sipping hot cider or hot cocoa.
Ahh, it's so much fun!
Even if you don't buy a tree, just go and enjoy being outside in a cozy fleece, walking through the fields with the fresh scent of pine leading you each step of the way.
My first time at a local Christmas tree farm, friends wondered if we had these types of farms back home. When asked where we would go to buy a real tree, not thinking much of it I quickly answered...
They laughed and finally understood my excitement!
And whether you get a real tree or an artificial tree, it doesn't matter. There's just something about adjusting the living room ever so slightly to have a Christmas tree in our homes for the holidays.
It's cozy. It's inviting. It's kind of...
...weird if we think about it.
We bring trees into our homes?
Why do we do this? I mean, it's not like we bring bushes in our homes. Why do we need a tree in the house?
Some may say, well for the presents, of course!
Well, yeah that's nice but it's not truly needed. Presents could be placed on the floor or by the fireplace or in stockings ...which that's another strange thing. We hang glorified socks from our fireplaces and put knick-knacks in them?
Before I get carried away and dissect every little holiday tradition as weird, let's get back on track.
Why the Trees?
Seriously, why? Trees - they're not cheap. They're not even easy to put up. Quite honestly, they can hurt if you get pricked by a pine needle. You have to water it or assemble it. You need a tree skirt so it doesn't get pine needles all over the floor and also so it looks cute! You may even want more than one. A large one in the family room and smaller ones throughout the house.
Is it just because this is what we've been trained to do?
Maybe. Perhaps. Can't argue that.
But why do we enjoy it so much may be the better question.
I think it has to do with how eternity is written on our hearts. We long for something this world can't give us.
In the dead of winter, in the cold, dark nights of the weary season, we bring a tree into our homes. Think about that for a second.
It's not just any tree. I don't go grab the ol' Redbud or Cotton Wood from the back and bring it into the house. Nah, those are dormant right now. Instead, we choose the evergreen tree.
Evergreens are different. They hold on to their foliage during the winter. They remain green.
This reminds me of a verse in the Bible.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers - Psalm 1:3
The person described is like an evergreen - their leaf does not wither in harsh conditions; they prosper even still.
If you're like me, I'm intrigued! What type of person? How is this possible?
If we go back a couple verses, we get our answer.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. - Psalm 1:1-2
In other words, the person who pursues righteousness - who walks in the light as we discussed last week - and whose delight, or heart's desire, is in the Lord's command.
When our desire shifts from our ways and selfishness to God's ways, we find meditating (or as my pastor says, "marinating") on scripture throughout our days is no longer such a chore.
It's a desire! It's a privilege!
We celebrate Christmas because the life of Jesus brought us the promise of everlasting life.
Evergreen. Eternal. Never ending. Forever life.
For 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. - John 3:16
The key to this eternal life?
If we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved and have everlasting life.
That's exciting! Way more exciting than visiting a Christmas tree farm.
So as we bring the tree into our homes this Christmas and enjoy its presence, let's remember the promise we have in Jesus. The promise of everlasting life.
Let us find strength in the streams of water where we're planted. Let us find joy in delighting in the truth and peace in believing God's love for us is enough. Let us find rest in the promise of eternal life with Him.
Yes, my friend, let us experience home for the holidays this Christmas - the home our souls long for.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!