EMAIL DEVOTIONAL – week of Christmas 1
She is on her last legs, I grudgingly admit. Still drinking a bit of water, but not nearly as much as the day about a month ago when she started hospice care. We have treated her lovingly, but she is showing some wear and tear. There are places where her heart is weak and her limbs are brittle. Yes, the inevitable is upon us … our Christmas tree is in her final couple of days as part of our family. She is clinging to life, but we can see the inevitable signs of wear and tear and recognize that she will not last forever in this world. She has been a good tree … a faithful part of our Christmas observance.
As I think about this year’s Christmas tree, what comes to mind is the ancient German custom of hanging a Christmas tree upside down in one’s home, as a sign of faith. The triangular shape of the tree was a natural symbol for the Trinity, given the triangular shape of the tree, and the distinctive image of the upside down tree served as a proclamation of faith for Christian households. We don’t hang our tree upside down. But in these latter days of its life among us for this Christmas season, I am reminded of other things that speak to our common faith.
I have watched the tree age these past weeks, but that aging has not diminished the ability to bring us joy. It serves as a proclamation to me that as I age a little more each year, my aging cannot diminish the faith which God has woven into my life, and the joy I find in that gift.
I have admittedly taken the tree for granted as the season has passed. Early on, I would find myself sitting and just looking at the tree. I always enjoy the beauty of the lights in a darkened room. Now, not so much. But that does not diminish the trees beauty. Even when taken for granted, beauty, like our faith, can remain potent and powerful.
And I always appreciate our Christmas tree to be an icon of our history. We have Christmas ornaments that go back to our first year or two of marriage, 37 years ago. And when I see early purchased ornaments … ornaments that our kids made in school … gifts from parishioners over the years … and a few ornaments that we have bought in recent years to commemorate particular events in our family life … I am reminded that when I look at the tree, I am looking at a symbolic expression of our family’s life.
So in the week ahead, consider those tangible reminders of this great faith that we have been gifted with … things that by their sheer presence alone, remind you of the presence of God in your life. Maybe a family Bible … or a picture from a baptism or confirmation or wedding … a prayer shawl or rosary … or possibly a long used devotional resource. Celebrate that the mere presence of these reminders – time-worn though they may be – serve to bring you into the presence of your God and Savior.