In the weeks before Christmas, the trees are chopped down,
Express mass transported to cities and towns,
To be sold and rehomed, hung with tinsel and lights
That twinkle away through the long winter nights.
We gather around them, give gifts and make merry,
Devour the chocolate and knock back the sherry,
But what does this seasonal centrepiece mean?
Is it just a traditional Christmas card scene?
A hangover from our Victorian past?
(Only now we have trees where the needles hold fast…)
Or can we say more? Well, listen in, please,
For the story of life is the story of trees.
Dig down through the dirt, through the frost and the snow;
Let’s follow some tree roots, and see where they go.
Rewind to another, less Christmassy Eve:
A girl in a garden, surrounded by trees,
Planted and watered by God, the Creator,
With Adam and Eve there to act as curators,
With one simple rule, one fruit not to eat,
No matter how tempting, no matter how sweet
Or how juicy or ripe it might look to the eye,
Because God’s rule was clear: if you eat it, you die.
To us that sounds harsh, like he’s trying to oppress them –
But think about all he provided to bless them:
A paradise, perfect in every respect.
Was obedience really too much to expect?
Well, you know the story – so picture the scene:
The girl in the garden, so luscious and green,
When along comes the Devil, disguised as a snake,
Slithers up to the girl, and says to her, “Take
Some fruit from the tree – you will not surely die.
That thing that God told you – it’s probably a lie.
And maybe I’m just going out on a limb,
But I think he’s afraid of you being like him.”
Eve was persuaded; she broke God’s command.
She wanted his wisdom; she reached out her hand,
And that glistening globe was plucked from its place,
A bauble that cursed the entire human race.
She gave some to Adam, he ate just the same,
And a species was plunged into guilt, into shame.
God’s sentence was passed: the man and his wife
Were ejected from Eden, cut off from true life.
Like needles from trees, we fall to the earth
But there’s hope – there is Christmas – there’s one special birth.
So fast forward through thousands of years’ worth of history
Until you reach one quite incredible mystery.
The first tree recounts man’s attempt to be God;
This tells of God become man – and what’s odd
Is he didn’t come checking to see who’d been good,
Because no one would qualify – none of us could.
No – he came to give rebels an undeserved gift,
To proclaim perfect peace, to heal a rift.
This tree marks the moment when things turned around:
A light in the darkness, a seed in the ground,
That would grow, that would blossom, would live his life right
As the true Son of God, his Father’s delight.
And yet Jesus Christ was cut down in his prime
He did nothing wrong – he committed no crime
But nevertheless, humanity – we –
Hung the Light of the World up to die, on a tree.
Not needles but nails pierced his hands and his feet,
His head crowned with thorns, a King’s downfall complete.
And gathered around him – to scorn, not to sing –
The world said goodbye to its once new-born King.
So the scripture’s fulfilled, chapter and verse,
Saying he who dies hung on a tree is accursed.
But the question that comes is whose curse did he face?
Is this triumph of evil, or triumph of grace?
The twist in God’s plotline, the story of trees,
Is that Jesus was nailed there for you and for me.
And tree number three’s not the end of the story:
On day number three, Jesus Christ rose in glory,
With evil defeated, its captives set free,
And outcasts in-grafted to God’s family tree.
History’s big picture? The trees tell it all:
The tragedy, triumph; the rise and the fall.
These trees all around us, so carefully arranged,
Are monuments marking when everything changed.
And the one in your living room, there by tradition,
Remembers a birth that was God on a mission
To rescue a world, give its people salvation,
Bring life out of death; from despair, celebration.