My wife calls me Scrooge. It’s true, I’m not the biggest fan of Christmastime. If I never heard another Amy Grant Christmas song I would be a happy man. So much busyness, rushing, consumption and tradition.
However, I’m always looking for a way to teach my kids about Jesus, and Christmas is loaded with opportunities to that. This week we put up our Christmas tree. A beautiful, slender Oregon Pine that we carefully selected out of the discount bin at Liquidation World in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, seven years ago. As Noah and I were assembling this beauty, it was a good opportunity to talk about why we put up a Christmas tree.
Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ’s birth.
A very cool story. The only problem is that it probably isn’t true. Though the tradition of bringing an evergreen inside to decorate for Christmas certainly was started in Germany, Luther scholars believe it did not originate with Luther. In fact the origin of the Christmas tree is a bit mysterious.
But what we teach our kids is that the Christmas tree reminds us of the tree in paradise that led to the fall of humanity into sin, and the tree on which Jesus died to redeem us from our sin and restore paradise. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – I Peter 2:24
We put up a tree to remind us that Jesus was born to bear our sins in his body on the tree. The beauty of Christmas is that it leads to the cross. I’m not sure why others put up a tree, but that’s our reason.