Scripture: Jeremiah 10:
1 Hear what the LORD says to you, house of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says:
"Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a skilled worker shapes it with a chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
Observation: Our faith is what we make of it.
Application: When you read the scripture above, what thing that is a major part of our Christmas celebrations comes to mind? Yes, the ever loved Christmas tree. Many people don’t realize how infused our traditions are with pagan practices and mythical lore. Now before we go much further I have to say that I’m not trying to get you to burn your Christmas trees, in fact I enjoy the beauty of a well decorated tree. They always bring back wonderful memories of my childhood and give me that nervous excited feeling of expectation for that special day.
There is no doubt that the origins of the Christmas tree are founded in pagan belief systems. This is but one example of influences outside of and sometimes opposed to our faith within our modern traditions. Even the date of Christmas Dec. 25th may have been used because many of the early Christians, who were converted pagans, were used to having a celebration on that day and didn’t want to give up the holiday, so to appease them and keep them faithful to the Church early leaders adopted the day and changed the meaning to that of a celebration of Christ’s birth.
Despite the origins of our traditions, I believe that what is of the highest importance to God is the meanings we attach to them now. When the words of Jeremiah were written, bringing a tree into your house and adorning it with silver and gold had a totally different meaning than it does for us. I don’t think that God is angered by Christmas trees or mistletoe or Yule logs or Easter bunnies, today. Symbols and traditions mean different things to different cultures and ages, what is important is the faith behind them for us now.
This year when I see a Christmas tree, it will remind me of Jesus and how God sent His Son to earth to live a life as one of us and to teach us how to be reconciled to Him. When I see the star on the top I will be reminded of the star that led the wise men to visit Him, and the gifts underneath will remind me of the gifts they presented to Him. Our traditions and cultures may have changed greatly over the years, some things may have found their way into them from unusual sources that you would not expect, but the heart of the matter is that through these things and the meanings they have to us now we are forging our faith in Christ and thinking about God.
Prayer: Father of All Creation,
Thank you for your love and grace. Please forgive me when I fail to acknowledge you in even the most miniscule moments. Grant me the ability to look upon all things and be reminded of your love and your majesty. Keep me on the path you have placed before me and renew my spirit that I may serve you with a full heart and with all my passion and strength.