Summary: A short Christmas sermon or a long devotional. A combination of Christmas and Easter themes useful for keeping the cross in view at Christmas.
A Perfect Tree
Theme: Christmas Object Lesson
Preaching Passage: Varied
Sermonic Process: Devotional
Introduction: I can remember the search for the perfect tree when I was a child. My dad would load the family into the old van and we would drive along country roads looking deep into the forest for the one we wanted. We never knew who the forest belonged to, but it seemed no one was too concerned about Christmas Tree hunters. Finally dad would spot one that looked right and we would pull onto the shoulder of the road and pile out of the van. Dad would untie the extension ladder from the roof and loop his saw over his shoulder and then we would trudge through hopelessly deep snow until we reached the base of the tree. Now you need to understand that my father belongs to that rare group of men who believe that the only perfectly formed Christmas trees to be found are found on the top six feet of a sixty foot douglas fir. So out would come the ladder to be extended to the very last rung, and with a quick command to us kids to hold the ladder dad was off. Mom was usually looking in the opposite direction praying for his deliverance and we kids would take turns backing up to see how far up dad was going. Finally he would reach the top and begin to saw (sawing noises). Now I imagine sawing in a snowmobile suit at the top of a ladder is tough, but it must have been the thinness of the air that caused him to stop from time to time and steady himself on the ladder. Finally we would hear the sound of wood cracking and dad would yell for us to watch out. Then came the best part as the top 10% of the tree fell away and the remainder gave a bit of a buck we would watch dad’s wild gyration as he sought to grab a few branches and keep from being flung backwards into the wilderness of trees.
I guess I shouldn’t tell too many stories, but it seems that there is something genetic that passes from father to son when it comes to seeking out the perfect tree. For in my first year of marriage I was determined that I would find the best tree to be had in Southern Ontario. Now I didn’t know where to go to cut my own, but I had seen a truck unloading trees at the local gas station and I decided to stop in and see what I could find. I looked at every tree sitting there, all bundled up with plastic netting to hold the branches in, but over in the corner I found it, the best looking bundle on the lot. It was nearly twice the money of the rest of the trees but then it was twice the size of those scrawny things. I guess things look smaller in the great expanse of the outdoors and perhaps I should have gathered a clue from the fact that I couldn’t close the tailgate on my pick-up because there was three feet of tree hanging out, but when I got it home and dragged into the old Victorian Parsonage in Waterford I tried to stand it up only to find it was still at a 65º angle when it touched the 10 foot ceilings! I didn’t own a saw and so I had to go to the neighbors and borrow theirs, but once I had it I dutifully cut a foot and a half from the tree. Now it stood up perfectly. Unfortunate I had forgotten that the tree stand adds nine inches to the height and so I had to lop off another foot. But this time it seemed right. Then we cut away the plastic netting! Wow, you would hardly know we were newly weds with no furniture, the living room was nearly lost in branches. For hours we labored, fastening the thousands of lights I had purchased, finally I reached the top, only to realize that there was no way to place the angel which needed about six inches of clearance as the top branch was touching the ceiling. With no way to remove more from the bottom of the tree I suddenly remembered my fathers technique of tree cutting and decided to lop nine inches off the top. Fortunately Michelle’s angel had a big skirt and hardly anyone noticed that tree was less than pointed; I guess it helped that you had to stand in the kitchen 15 feet away if you wanted to see the whole thing.
So much is made today of the true meaning of Christmas, many people look at the Christmas Tree and see it not as a true part of the holiday season, but as a pagan imposter. However I believe that just as we no longer recognize our days of the week or months of the year as the names of pagan gods, so too the Christmas Tree has become simply a part of our Christmas ritual; and I am reminded that Jesus was often one to use a popular image or scene at hand to illustrate important spiritual truths, so tonight I want to talk to you about God’s Christmas tree.