You can’t have Christmas without a tree. Real or fake, it’s the centerpiece of our holiday. I think sometimes it is even more important in our culture to put up the tree than to read the Christmas story on Christmas Day! If I was politically correct, I would just call it a “holiday tree”. But spiritually speaking, it is interesting to note that there is no mention of a tree in the Christmas story. There is a star in the story, so in our home we put the star on the top of the tree. In Christmas history, the tree has signified everlasting life. Pope John Paul even called the Christmas tree “a symbol of Christ”. He said, “In winter, what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life and should remind Christians of the “tree of life” of Genesis 2:9, an image of Christ, the supreme gift of God to humanity.”
One day while returning from a visit to Monte Verde, the poor Haitian village, we came across the most interesting Christmas tree created out of plastic bottles. Someone was stringing the bottles around a tepee of tree branches. I thought it was the best Pinterest project ever!! But I can’t tell you how out of place this tree looked. This is a village not only filled with literal garbage on every corner, but a spiritual darkness that permeates to the very edges. While you can find kids playing and laughing, there is a feeling of despair and hopelessness in the eyes of most every adult. Sometimes I see anger and exasperation. But yet in the midst of all this, someone quite creative found the joy in making a 10 foot Christmas tree for all to see. A sign of undying life in the bleakest, coldest of places…a sign of Christ himself. Christ always brings hope. This was such a great reminder to me that where I see despair, he IS the hope. When discouraged by the mountains of trash, I know he IS the beauty in the creation of everything and everyone in that village. He doesn’t see what we see. He sees the beauty of his creation in the darkest, bleakest places because He IS the hope of the world!
“And his name will be the hope of all of the world.”