A Christmas Tree, from the outside~ by Fr. Bryan

The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all this Advent.

We were challenged by our Father General, to consider a sermon keeping the Christmas tree somewhat in mind when we consider the theme.  There were at first many possibilities, but none that seemed to jump to the front.

I thought of the traditional recollections, of how the Christmas tree came to be. The folklore story of Martin Luther walking back to his church on a winters’ night and pausing to gaze up at the stars twinkling beyond the branches of an evergreen.  How he set up such a tree within his church adorned with candles, which reminded him of that night.

Then I thought of the legend of St. Boniface and how, confronted by the pagans in Germany he was on a mission to convert, he cut down the beloved oak tree they worshipped and built a church to St. Peter with it’s wood.  After winter, an evergreen sprig sprouted from the stump of the oak he’d cut down- an evergreen that would endure winter after winter.

As I wrestled with the thought for an idea to choose, the Spirit spoke to me in the musings of Sister Dollie. She compares herself to a Christmas tree, “nothing special under all [her] glittery adornments, but yet you [we] welcome me [her] as a sister in Christ.”  Dearest child of God, you are indeed an inspiration and worthy of our love.

How we all are like Christmas trees.  We have somewhere to go, someone to see and we will spend hours preparing. We shower, pick out our nicest clothes or compare patterns and colors, then to the mirror to groom. Is my hair perfect? Does this shirt match my pants? Does it make me look fat? Is this bling to much?  Yes, we are adorned Christmas trees. Only when we have judged ourselves perfect, can we be good enough to go out- to be put in front of the window where everyone can see.

True, but they only see us then from the outside.  Like carolers strolling by on a winter night looking at the beautiful Christmas trees beyond the frosty windows.  They never see just the tree.  Those imperfections hidden beneath the strings of lights, ornaments and tinsel- the broken branches,  the twisted trunk and of course those bare spots.

Before God, we are naked Christmas trees.  God sees our broken branches, our twisted trunk and yes, our bare spots.  God adorns us with love and, unlike our own critical review of ourselves- God embraces us with all our imperfections, faults and “bare spots.” God knows that we are indeed special- for God is our Creator and we are his created.  We are the sheep of His flock and He is our shepherd, regardless of the brightness and quality of our wool.

It is as when we chose that naked tree, to become our Christmas tree. We chose it for it’s shape, its size, it’s fullness and most importantly- for it’s potential. Then we bring it home and adorn it with lights, tinsel and a star. It becomes a beautiful Christmas tree- and we place it in front of the window.

My almighty Creator. You see me as I am. Naked, I kneel before you in all my imperfection. I am like that evergreen tree- broken, twisted and bare.  Make me into a Christmas tree, almighty God- so that I might radiate your love and bring  joy to all those that I meet on this journey through life. Make me worthy of their friendship, and of your love and promise of eternal life.  I kneel before you, my Lord Jesus, as you lay in the manger. I adore and worship you. May the joy, peace, hope and promise of Christmas never end!  Amen.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given- and the government will be upon his shoulders; and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6]

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