The Christmas Tree

It is said that in the seventh century a zealous young English missionary was the first person to use the evergreen tree as a symbol for God.  Winfrid, who would later become known as Saint Boniface, used the tree as an object lesson.  He taught that each point on the triangular-shaped tree represented a different Person of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Legend has it that one day Winfrid came upon a group of men offering a sacrifice to an oak tree as an act of worship.  So angered was he by this idolatry that Winfrid swung his ax and felled the oak tree with one mighty blow.  According to the tale, a fir tree eventually grew from the stump of the oak.  Struck by this occurrence, the missionary proclaimed that the tiny new tree represented Jesus' victory over death on the cross and the eternal life made available to us by the King of kings.

The Christmas tree is a beautiful reminder of why Jesus was born in the first place – to die for you and me.  "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24, NIV).  As we put up the Christmas tree in our homes, it can only deepen our joy if we remember His Death at this time of His birth.  It is because He died for us that we can receive the eternal life represented by the evergreen boughs.

Have you ever noticed that the boughs of your tree extend out like the arms of Jesus stretched upon the cross as He offered His life to anyone who would come to Him in faith?  And your Christmas tree is very definitely pointing toward heaven and, as Jesus did with His words and His actions, drawing our attention to the Father who loves us.

So when you stand before your Christmas tree, stand tall, as the tree does, and be a witness for Jesus.  Let it direct your attention to the Father above.  Fix your eyes on Jesus, then open your arms wide to touch others with His Spirit of love.  Then you, too, will be pointing people toward heaven – and to life beyond the power of death.

Teachable Moments

  • "Why do you think the Christmas tree is the main holiday decoration?"
    (Talk about how it represents the tree Jesus died on, which is why He was born in the first place.)
  • "Can you find other ways the tree might remind us of Jesus?"
    (Point out the ways the tree illustrates Jesus.)
  • "Could we use the tree to tell other people about Jesus?"
    (Share the legend of Winfrid and the pagan worshipers.)

Animal Christmas Tree

Find a tree in a forest (or your backyard, if you live in the urban jungle) and decorate it for the animals.  String berries, pieces of fruit, and popcorn and drape them around the tree.  Poke pieces of bread and cake on the branches.  Hang birdseed bells or make your own by smearing peanut butter on empty toilet paper rolls and then rolling them in sunflower seeds and nuts.  Watch the animals feast away with your children.

Christmas Cone-ifer

What you'll need:

Sugar ice-cream cones
Green cake frosting
Miniature M&Ms

Directions:

Let your children spread the green frosting over the entire sugar cone.  Turn the cone upside down and decorate it with the miniature M&Ms.  Sing "O Christmas Tree" and then eat it!

Lights on the Tree

As the story goes, a professor named Martin Luther was walking alone through a forest one December night in the early 1500s.  As he made his way home, the stars seemed to twinkle with an unusual brightness against the velvety blackness of the clear night sky.  In fact, when he passed under the rustling branches of the evergreens, it seemed to him that miniature stars were dancing in the trees all around him.