Send in the Trees

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A little over fifty-five years ago – can you believe it, 55?! – Charles Schulz’s animated musical “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired for the very first time. The special hit our TV’s on Dec. 9, 1965 and our friend Charlie Brown became famous for his pitiful little Christmas tree! The story was actually a commentary on the loss of the true spirit of Christmas and the selection of his forlorn tree was to protest the commercialization of Christmas. The story ends on an amazing note as poor ol’ Charlie Brown asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus reassures him by famously reciting the Christmas story from Luke 2. Such a terrific Christmas story – both of them!

For several years, our family decided to celebrate Christmas with what we fondly called our “Charlie Brown trees.” We intentionally found the most sorry tree on the lot, lugged it home, set it up, and decorated the puddin’ out of it. Our friends would come over and gaze upon our tree in amazement – “The pastor really has a tree with no shape plus big gaps in it? Who does that?!” Actually, it was kinda fun and our daughters still talk about those Charlie Brown trees to this day! During this same time period, we had a friend who went through four trees one Christmas looking for the perfect tree. And he thought we were crazy!

The history and origin of Christmas trees is debated to this day – many believe they are a pagan image but others see the evergreen as a representation of God’s everlasting love. Both of these views are correct but, like anything else, it’s a matter of the heart. Many who enjoy the yearly tree, point to the star on top as representing the star the Magi followed to Bethlehem and the tree lights reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world.

Legend has it that Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the first person to put lights on the Christmas tree. It’s said that he was out one night and was so moved by the beauty of the night stars shinning between the branches of a fir tree that he bought one home and decorated it with candles so his children could share in that wonder! And thus a tradition was born!

My mother loved putting tinsel on our Christmas trees – she and my father would carefully lay one thin strip of tinsel at a time on the branches – it took forever – but the end result was stunning! Tinsel, in fact, has its origins in Germany from the 1600’s, when people used thin strands of real silver to reflect candlelight. I remember my own daughters throwing tinsel at our tree in giant gobs – they seemed to think it looked great so we just left it that way. It was, after all, the family tree!

An interesting tidbit about our “tree-friends” is that Arizona has a giant 30-foot Christmas tree made completely out of tumbleweeds. It takes 1,200 tumbleweeds to create the “tree” which is then covered in glitter and flame retardant. Only in Arizona! But if you live in Hohenwald, Tennessee you may want to think about donating your used tree to the Elephant Sanctuary there. The zoo feeds these old trees to their hungry elephants as a seasonal snack! Who would have thought – that’s definitely one to remember for Jeopardy!

Truly, Christmas is such a gift in so many ways: the gift of a wonderful holiday, the gift of celebrating friends & family, and – most of all – the gift of a Savior – a gift we can share with others. There’s a story told of Jesus going to heaven after His time on earth, and the angels asked Him, “Did You accomplish Your mission?” “Yes, all is finished,” the Lord replied. “We have a second question,” voiced the angels. “Has the whole world heard of You?” “No,” said Jesus. The angels next asked, “Then what is Your plan?” Jesus said, “I’ve left twelve men and some other followers to carry the message to the whole world.” The angels looked at Him, “Ohhhhkay — so do you have a Plan B?”

Of course, there is no Plan B – as Christ-followers – we’re it. We are Ambassadors for Christ spreading the Gospel – the Good News – to any and all who have an ear to hear. It’s an easy message really – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” The well-known Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) saId this about our holiday: “Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.” So yes, Charlie Brown – we know what Christmas is all about.

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Bob and Susan Beckett pastor the Dwelling Place City Church at 27100 Girard Street, in Hemet, CA. For more information, you may contact them at DPCityChurch.org.

Susan Beckett | Contributed

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