Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)
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.
Each year we would load up the car and head out to the Christmas tree farm and pick out our tree. After weighing everyone’s opinions, we would decide on the tree, tie the tree to the roof of our car, and make our way home. That night we would decorate our tree together as a family. After we adorned the tree with splendor, we would turn off all the lights, amazed as it shone brightly in the darkness.
I love these kinds of moments because I think as believers, we should be the most celebratory community on earth. We know all the good things that we enjoy and all the family love we experience are sweet and undeserved gifts from our Heavenly Father.
But I am concerned that we remember—and that we help our family remember—that while this beautiful holiday season is about a tree, it’s not about the decorated tree in your living room that you’ve so carefully adorned.
From the moment of his first breath, the life of that baby in the manger was marching toward a tree. It would not be a tree of beauty or celebration but of sacrifice and death. It would not stand in someone’s home as part of a seasonal tradition but would be outside the city walls on a hill of execution.
That baby wouldn’t stand before his tree and smile at its beauty but would be tortured on it, nailed between convicts. That tree on the hill was not a symbol of a season but an instrument of judgment. On that seemingly hopeless hill, that tree of death gave life and hope to humanity.
The Advent season tells a story that will take your breath away. It’s a story about inescapable need, a glorious incarnation, a substitutionary life, an atoning sacrifice, and a victorious resurrection. Only God could write such a story, and only God could complete the plot.
It’s a story meant to amaze us, humble us, capture us, rescue us, transform us, and cause us to live in wonder and worship. This story provides the only way you can make sense out of your identity and your real need. This story reveals where hope is to be found and points you to the meaning and purpose of your existence.
I love the seasonal stories of sleds, snowmen, gifts, and goodies. Nor do I stand in opposition to singing silly seasonal songs. What I am concerned about is that in the midst of such excitement decorating our Christmas tree, we forget about the Cross.
Make your Advent conversation about a tree, but not the one in your living room. Talk about how that baby in the manger came not to decorate a tree, but to hang on it for your salvation. Remind yourself and your family that in a world darkened by sin, that tree of sacrifice and salvation shines as a light of eternal hope that will never, ever go out.
Dear Lord, we thank You for Christmas and the amazing gift You gave to each of us. As we celebrate help us not forget the that You not only came as a baby but you died as a man and rose from the dead to take away our sins. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.