But it has drawn my attention -- the last, little evergreen on the sloping hill of a Christmas tree farm. Lonely against the empty fields behind it.
I point it out to my son, daughter-in-law and my wife. I say, “I wish I had brought a few ornaments to put on it to photograph it.” But they are focused on their task of finding the perfect pine for their home. And this is not going to be a Charlie Brownish salvage operation.
It is only later, in the glow of our own bedecked tree, that I wonder which version speaks more of the incarnation. Jesus left behind his glory to be born into the plainest of cribs, to a poor family, in a remote corner of the world. John Milton writes,
That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council-table,
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside, and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Perhaps we should leave the tree simple and undecorated, humble in the corner.
And yet, Jesus didn’t remain in that state. He is once again radiant, crowned with glory having completed his earthly task of redemption. Decorating that humble tree is, in my imagination, akin to obeying the command to “ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name.” (Ps.29:2)
My wife and I like to collect ornaments from the places we vacation, like the cup from the Charleston tea plantation. Adding them to the branches each year is a way to recall God’s kindness to us. And his acts always are meant to draw our attention back to his character. When we are done, the glittering tree can be a powerful reminder of the glory of our loving Lord.
But that’s not all. That radiant pine is also a picture of us. When I went to Scripture looking for the word adorn, I found that time and again, it speaks of God adorning us!
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation…
as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)
This is the true meaning of Christmas: God sent his Son so that we might someday share in the glory that adorns Jesus.
What a miraculous, extravagant truth!
Jesus, with every ornament, we ascribe to you the beauty and glory you deserve for coming to this "darksome house" in order to save us. And with every twinkling light, we thank you for your transforming love. We adorn you. And adore you.