So this thought happened upon me a few weeks ago. I was doing some devotional reading and stumbled across an excerpt that focused on the story of Zacchaeus  and that ole sycamore tree (Luke 19:1-10.) Obviously the first thing that popped into my mind was the little kid’s song that I learned growing up (sing along if you know it…)

Zacchaeus was a wee little man
And a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see
And as the Savior passed that way
He looked up in that tree
And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I’m going to your house today
For I’m going to your house to stay!”

Once I finished singing the song to myself a couple of times,  I read the devotional. It relates the physical shortness of Zacchaeus to the spiritual “shortness of vision” we each have within our faith from time to time. You know… you get bogged down in all of life’s craziness, we lose sight of God’s presence in our current situation, we get selfish and think a little more about ourselves and less about others. Then, as the devotion shared, we have those “tree” moments; when someone or something allowed us to climb out of our situation and get a clearer vision of Jesus… a better look at God and at who we are supposed to be. Who in YOUR life has provided you with “tree” moments?

The Advent season seems to me like a pretty decent “tree” to help us prepare our hearts and obtain a clearer picture of what’s to come and why we celebrate this time of year. Each Sunday we light a new candle on the wreath and explain its meaning and how each of those candles allows for us to open our hearts before God and accept the REAL gift that is coming…that is the gift of Jesus… Immanuel, God with us. I like that the Gospel of Matthew refers to Jesus as Immanuel (Matthew 1: 23) because we need that reminder that God is truly WITH us and that we don’t have to live out this life on our own. The fourth verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” phrases it just right:

O holy child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord, Emmanuel

To me this verse gives me peace knowing that Jesus came to the earth to be with us and to show us that God wants to be with us and offer us all the love we need. And what assurance we have knowing that the one thing we truly needed is the one thing that God wanted to give to us: God’s love. So even though “Christmas” has passed, don’t let the significance of this holiday get lost in the piles of wrapping paper and bows. Take a tree’s perspective and seek God as the New Year approaches. Better yet, take a Christmas Tree’s perspective. Adorned with lights and colors, it reflects the joy and wonder that came with the birth of Christ. But it is also a reminder of what else is to come upon a tree… Jesus’ crucifixion and death. I know that seems morbid to think about that during Christmas but we need that graphic reminder to show us just how much God loves us. That God in Jesus went from the Christmas Tree to the Crucifixion Tree all with each of us in mind. That makes Christmas much more than just the holiday celebrating Jesus being born on earth. And speaking of Jesus coming to earth, I heard this revised version of a familiar tune that I found quite meaningful…

“Jesus Christ is Coming to Town”

Wipe away your tears, get rid of your fears;
Here’s the best news you’ve heard in years!
Jesus Christ is coming to town.

He’s makin’ a list in the Book of Life,
That’ll be the end of your trouble and strife!
Jesus Christ is comin’ to town.

He loves you when you’re sleepin’,
He loves you when you’re awake;
He loves you when you’re bad or good,
But be good for Jesus’ sake!

Now put on a smile, get rid of that frown,
Spread the “Good News” all around;
Jesus Christ is comin’ to town.

 

So what’s your next tree moment? When are you going to stop what you’re doing and go a little out of your way to interact and experience life with the Living God? May everyday from here on forward be a celebration of Christmas in your heart and in your life as we live out the love that God first gave to us in the form of an infant child in a little town called Bethlehem… And may you be the tree for those around you (family, friends, co-workers, fellow church-members, perfect strangers) as you help them get a better look at God.

Merry Christmas and remember and… be good for Jesus’ sake!

Mpaka Wakati Halafu…

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