After Thanksgiving our family did something new to start the Christmas season. We threw out our fake tree with broken lights, and drove to a nearby farm to cut down a real one. After a half hour of walking, we found our prize. Refreshed from a cup of hot chocolate around the outdoor fire, we tied the tree to the roof and were on our way.
Back home, with the stand in place, we began to set the tree in the corner of our living room. This was a huge challenge. When we pulled back the branches we could all see why. The trunk was bent and twisted. In the excitement of selecting a tree we didn’t even notice.
I wasn’t sure it would make it. We briefly considered throwing it out and starting over. However, we decided to save our tree. And, with some pruning and an extra dose of determination, it finally stood straight. As you can see, it looked beautiful once covered in white lights and gold ornaments.
Our tree is a good metaphor of our lives. The Bible tells us we were all born with the bends. You may have a selfish bent. Some have an angry bent. Others are bent by pride, consumed with self promotion. Still others are bent by lust and greed. We all have the bends.
It is impossible for a crooked tree to fix itself. Likewise, we can try as hard as we can to straighten up, but still something stays bent inside. We all need a Savior.
This is the miracle and the message of Christmas. In Luke 2:11 the angel proclaimed these words to the startled shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” On the first Christmas, God sent his Son Jesus to our broken world to make salvation possible. When we place our faith in Jesus, he covers us with the lights of his righteousness and the ornaments of his grace. What was once broken and ugly becomes beautiful and useful to God. He brings us into his family, into his house, and sets us up for his special purpose.
Let’s remember the reason for Christmas today. It’s easy to forget all we have in Christ and focus instead on the material things we think would make us happy. Let’s not only remind ourselves, but praise the Lord for all he’s done.
Wherever you are, say the following verse out loud to yourself from Psalm 103:1-5, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”