on the Eve of Christmas

a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.

the other day, i went for my saturday morning run and on my way home, i ran by a christmas tree lot. my nose was red and cold from the early morning air, my lungs were feeling heavy, my legs were weary. i was feeling this run more than usual. and then, the scent of pine hit my nostrils. and for the rest of the way, i contemplated those trees.

my mind wondered about how many trees are purchased and displayed and then destroyed every year. and i had a bit of a tree-hugger moment. mourning the loss of all those trees. essentially, planted and grown to die. to be cut down in their prime. what a waste. all for a day that has been essentially taken over with commercialism and racket that has nothing to do with the true meaning of the season. do people even know why they put up a tree, anymore? or is it a silly seasonal habit? something to show off how creative or cute or extravagant they are? is there anyone who knows what christmas is all about? my inner charlie brown was in full-force.

and then, it struck me. those trees. cut down in their prime. living to die. for us.

this is christmas. that is precisely what christmas is all about.

my inner dialogue calmed - the annoyance subsided - and my heart was peaceful. and grateful.

the evergreen is meant to symbolize everlasting life. it is a reminder to us that even in the harshest winter, that tree is green. it lives. the tree reminds us of the tree by which our sin was overcome, namely the tree upon which Christ Jesus was crucified. Paul writes in Galatians 3:13, "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" (quoting Deut. 21:23). and Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:24, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."  the tree exalts the value of life, of power over death.

the tree is a reminder that the Natal Savior was born to die. He came and lived with the purpose of giving up His life for us. that babe born in a manger was the Savior of the world. Isaiah 9:6, "for to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." the King of Kings, crucified on a tree so that He could conquer death and redeem us. to give us life, evergreen.

as we decorate the tree and place gifts under it, may we think of those things as symbols. may we celebrate the greatest gift that has ever been given. the gift of greatest price. the gift of God's only son, unto us. God with us. our Emmanuel. what love the Father has for us! to give His son as a ransom for the world. that He might live perfectly and die horribly and rise victorious and then return to His heavenly place of glory.

"hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"

advent season makes us ache for the ultimate advent of our Lord and Savior. may all the sweetness of this season and the scent of pine make our hearts pine for home. may we comprehend the richness of the gospel anew. may we enjoy the delights of this life as reminders of the utter delight of Heaven. may our hearts be stirred with a deep longing for what is true and glorious. may we revel in the pleasures of the King's table. may we experience the warmth and adoration that is ours when we sit at the feet of our Savior.

let us celebrate the One who was born in a stable lowly. let us cherish the One who humbled himself unto death, even death on a tree. and let us exalt the One who rose from the grave and conquered sin and death.

"and He shall reign forever and ever!"