down two blocks to our local fire department to buy a tree. Once we found the perfect tree, the kids would carry it home, and we would all have candy cane hot cocoa. When we moved to Idaho, I was thrilled to start a new tradition of cutting down a tree in the mountains. I saw before me years of happy tree-hunting bliss in the snowy mountains with a thermos of hot cocoa. However, after one trip of stomping through the snow to find the least scrawny tree, my family was less enthusiastic about this becoming a yearly tradition. These little mountain trees were not the beautiful Fraser and Douglas firs from their midwestern childhood.
The next year, we went to a local tree lot, and, as we searched for the perfect tree, all I could see were price tags that seemed too high, knowing there was a mountain of trees for just a few dollars. For a few years now, I have tried to coax my family back up the mountain only to end up at a lot looking through pricey trees. This year, we brought home a very nice fake tree.
Now, it is a nice tree: the perfect shape, with lights ready to go, no snow, and not overly priced. By all of our family standards, it is the perfect tree, but it is a fake tree. As my guys loaded it into the car, I couldn’t help but think it was just a shadow of the real thing. On the way home with our new tree in the trunk, I felt a little bit sad that, somehow, I had lost one of my favorite traditions. My family lovingly reminded me that there may still be real trees in my future and that this perfect tree would ensure I always had a tree ready to go up the day after Thanksgiving.
Once my new fake tree was decorated with all of our ornaments full of special memories, I sat down on my couch to find that favored peaceful moment once again. I looked at my tree in all of its shining beauty, and a passage came to mind.
In this chapter, Paul is urging the church on many things--one of which was not getting caught up in the demands of tradition and holy days. He reminded the church that many of the feasts and special days of the Old Testament were designed to point people to God and to the coming of Christ. It is so easy for we humans to elevate our various traditions and forget their original purpose. All of the majesty of that special night when God’s long-awaited Promise came to Earth and Jesus joined with us in our journey was brought to my heart and mind by my fake tree. The shadow of sadness left me as I remembered once again that the joy of Christmas is centered in Christ alone. I sat back with tears of gratitude and joy as God reminded me of His peace once again.
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.