Our Family is in Conflict Again:
Every year the LaCorte clan wants to take our Christmas tree down in January, and I consider myself only slightly greedy for lobbying to keep it up till at least July.
“It’s a fire hazard!” They contend.
“It’s artificial!” I counter.
I still lose. No logical argument, no emotional outpour, no offer of family bribery works.
To people like you and me, the tree is more than a tree. It’s a symbol. The last and final vestige of the magical season known all over the world as Christmas… Consider the Christmas Story! It has its own angelic songs, its own warming hearth. Its own guiding Star. To the curb or to the attic? Heaven forbid! When our Christmas tree goes away, something inside goes away.
We must keep our Christmas Trees alive, all year long! Here’s how:
Appreciate His Daily Gifts to You:
So many, pile high, one upon another, presents reach to the lower branches of this year’s tree. Some we expect, others surprise us. Most are deeply appreciated. A few seem more a curse than a blessing.
But our Father in Heaven knows what we need. He always gives good gifts. One by one, throughout the year, we unwrap them. Some seem to us the wrong color, or too small, or too large. A few, we didn’t ask for at all; and frankly wish we could return unopened.
Perhaps this year, I’ll pray not that He only gives gifts I want, but that He helps me value what He gives. If a gift of chastisement, remember that He chastises the one He loves. If a gift of heartbreak, know that suffering produces endurance, endurances leads to character, and character, hope that satisfies. With gifts of common providence, a tank full of gas, a peaceful home, a clean bill of health, a novel and a warm afghan, that I don’t take them for granted. That I might remain grateful for the small things, conscious of the fact that it could have gone the other way, and for some that very day, it has.
Rejoice always, anticipate with a heart of gladness, give thanks in all circumstances and for every gift under your Christmas tree this coming year, whether big or small, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Let Your Lights So Shine:
This was the year for outages. One broken bulb would render the entire string a length of twisted wire. And we had lots of broken bulbs. I thought of my own string of lights, the one I am supposed to let so shine before men that they see my good works and glorify my Father in Heaven. One bulb goes out; I stop reading my Bible every day; I start missing church services. Lo & behold my entire strand goes dark. I stop being kind to people I don’t know. My own preferences become more important than my wife’s. Before long, I cease being the light of Christ to a world groping about for hope and meaning. Neither hot nor cold, I’m a tangled up mess.
Oh, but not this year! This year, I will look forward to drinking in God’s Word, daily. I’ll consider it nourishment, rainfall over a parched earth, divine communion. I’ll look between the lines for those things the verses convict me of, and pray that I overcome. I’ll breathe a sigh of satisfaction knowing that my Lord has me all year long; keeps me all year long. I’ll not let my lights become coiled or tangled, nor flicker or fail. By bathing in God’s Word with honest prayer, weekly submittal to my pastor’s exhortation and sweet renewing fellowship with the saints, my demeanor will radiate the light of “Glory to the newborn King!”
Follow the Star:
Gifts lie beneath, lights surround, but the star… the star is high atop the Christmas tree in our home. It is the last item to be placed. A more reverent tone accompanies the placing of the star, perhaps because it is more than just another ornament. It represents the heavenly light which lead the wise men to the newborn King.
Our Christmas tree will be down soon, to be mothballed for another season. Its electrically powered luminaires will be unplugged. The presents it presided over, opened and hung from the tie rack with care. Neither you nor can let it go however. It’s just not that simple any more, since we unwrapped that first gift – the gift of eternal life.
To each of His apostles, our Lord said, “Follow me.” Later, when it got tough, Jesus asked Peter if he was leaving too, like many had. Peter answered, “Where would we go, Lord? Who else would we follow?” Who else, indeed. You and I must follow this Nazarene because He has proven Himself to be the Way, the Truth and the very Life within us. Where else would we go?
Therefore, let us resolve to follow the bright morning Star of David all year long, to consider every good gift to be a blessing, whether gleefully received or painfully laid bare before a broken heart. Let us never allow our first love to grow cold. Let us continue to beam forth with unveiled faces the Lord’s glory, all year long.
O Father of Lights, help us keep this wonderful Christmas … all year long …
Bible verses are paraphrased.
Copyright 2022. Ben LaCorte