Sermon Illustrations


Among the cards we've received over the years, some were those Guidepost Christmas cards with stories in them. This is one of those stories.

It was the first Saturday of the Advent season in Europe. The Queen’s royal woodsmen were searching the royal forest for the perfect Christmas tree. It would then be cut down and raised up in the Castle with shimmering candles and bright ornaments placed on it.

On Christmas Eve the royal family and villagers would surround the tree, singing and celebrating season.

Well, out in the forest all the trees were vying for this honor. Just a few days before the Queen’s search began for the royal Christmas Tree, it was a cold, clear night, with the moon glittering on the crusty snow.

A small rabbit limped into the evergreens, breathless and in panic. Beyond the hill could be heard the yelping of the village dogs in the thrill of the hunt.

The rabbit frantically searched for cover, but found nothing among the big, dark trunks of the big evergreens. Faster and faster the rabbit circled around, as the yelping grew louder as the dogs drew nearer.

The large evergreens frowned at this interruption of their peaceful evening. But then a small pine tree shuddered in the breeze. It was a promising young tree; one of the finest looking ones in the forest. Everything about it was perfect, from its dark seagreen needles to the delicate curl of it’s branches toward the sky, with the lower branches drooping, laden with snow.

Just before the dogs arrived, the rabbit found safety within the branches of that little pine tree. The dogs rushed at the tree and the rabbit nestled safely under the branches of that perfect little tree. After some time, the dogs left in frustration. But a few of the branches on that little evergreen were broken in the hunt.

Maybe a few irregularities would not bother the Queen; maybe it would still be chosen as the royal Christmas Tree.

But that night brought a powerful blizzard, lashing out on the forest. The villagers closed their shutters; the birds and animals huddled in their nests and dens.

But there was a small wren that was being blown about, desperately seeking sanctuary in the evergreens, but none of them was accommodating. Finally the wren fell exhausted into that little pine tree. The pine tree’s heart opened and so did its branches, and the wren slept warm and protected in its refuge. But because the pine tree had opened up its branches during the storm, a gap was made in it’s side, causing it to lose its shapeliness.

Winter continued, bringing more stormy windy nights. A small fawn that had wandered from its mother inched into the evergreens, seeking a windbreak. And again the little pine tree took pity and closed its branches tightly to form a wall, behind which the fawn could safely huddle. When the wind stopped, the small pine tree had been permanently bent out of shape, leaning back from the windy nights, from having closed its branches to the wind for the fawn. Now the little pine tree could never hope to be honored by the Queen.

The little pine tree was discouraged because it was not good enough for the Queen’s use. Lost in despair, the little pine tree did not see the good Queen coming into the forest in her sleigh to choose the finest tree for Christmas.

As she was being shown the trees she saw the little pine tree. At first anger filled her as she saw this scrubby little tree in her royal forest, saying “A tree with such defects in the royal forest?” She was about to order it disposed of, when she noticed the tracks of small animals heading under it; and then she saw a feather in its branches where a bird had rested. So she studied the tree more closely, and as she saw the gaping hole in its side and the wind-bent trunk – understanding began to fill her heart.

“This one,” she said to her royal woodsmen. And to the astonishment of the whole forest, and the royal woodsmen, the little pine tree was carried to the castle.

All the village and royal family said on Christmas Eve that it was the finest Christmas tree yet. That’s because, as they looked at it’s gnarled, worn branches, many saw the protecting arms of the Lord and Savior of Christmas. The Queen saw the love of Christ expressed on earth in that little pine tree.

I trust that as we surround our Christmas trees with our families, that we will also surround that Christmas tree with the thoughts of the Tree we really need to remember at Christmas.

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