Usually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we Adamses head out to find our Christmas tree. Since our first Christmas in 1979, that’s been our custom. As soon after turkey day as possible, we head out to find and decorate a live tree—because we love their smell and look.
And we’re not alone. Every year 25-30 million Americans buy a live tree. If you’re one of those millions you know that finding the right tree is easier said than done.
- It has to be the right height.
- It has to have stiff branches to hold all our ornaments—because some of them are on the heavy side.
- It has to be perfectly shaped all the way around—no bare spots—we want a symmetrical cone!
- It has to be healthy—you don’t want an almost dead tree shedding needles all over your living room a week after you put it up.
I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about—even those of you who’ve purchased a fake tree. It too has to be the right shape and height. I mean, to get Christmas right—requires finding the right tree.
By the way, I learned that this year there are a couple new “Christmas tree trends” to choose from. One is the UPSIDE-DOWN tree. It’s been designed by Hammacher Schlemmer, a retail company based in New York. It’s 7-feet tall and pre-lit with over 800 commercial–grade lights—and only costs: $599.95. Now, you may be wondering—as I did—why would anyone think the RIGHT tree should be upside down? Well according to Hammacher Schlemmer’s website:
“The inverted shape makes it easier to see ornaments, which hang away from the dense needles, while allowing more room for the accumulation of presents underneath.”
Even Target is getting in on the action, with upside-down trees but their prices range from $299 to $499 on its website. Some may say that’s a deal but $300 is still too upside down in my book!
And then last week on Shark Tank we saw a collapsible Christmas tree made of concentric rings. It can be hung from the ceiling and is easily stored in a flat box. They even make half versions—that protrude out of the wall—kind of like you’d mount a deer head. I guess they come in handy if you have a small room.
Well these new options may be good—but the fact is they only add to the problem of finding the right tree. They just make getting this part of Christmas RIGHT more difficult. And I mention this because mankind’s difficulty in picking the right tree is nothing new. In fact, ALL our problems stem from the fact that the first two people picked the WRONG tree.
I think you know what I’m getting at. But just in case you don’t—The book of Genesis tells us about the first people: Adam and Eve. In the beginning, things were going great for them. God gave them a beautiful garden to live in—the Garden of Eden. It had everything they needed to literally live happily ever after. God would relate to them there. They would walk together down the pathways of that paradise. The weather was always perfect. There were no natural disasters.
There was no such thing as disease—no fear or sorrow—only peace and contentment and joy. But, best of all, these first two people enjoyed a perfect relationship with our Creator. Eden was indeed a paradise in every sense of the word!
Now, they had tons of trees in this garden—and only ONE RULE regarding them. They could eat of the fruit of any tree—except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And for some time—we don’t know how long—but for some time, Adam and Eve OBEYED this one rule. Every day they picked the right tree or trees. They lived in perfect harmony with God and could have done this forever.
But then that horrible day came when they broke the one rule. They yielded to temptation and picked the WRONG tree. They both ate of its fruit—even though God had made it clear that it was forbidden—and from that moment on the world has never been the same. They fell—and the world fell along with them. And the word “FALL” is a good one because after their disobedience like a fall that causes us pain—they experienced painful things they had never known of before.
Think of it. The moment they picked the WRONG tree GUILT appeared for the first time. The instant they ate, Adam and Eve something they had never felt before—regret and shame! Then another horrible thing happened. They felt FEAR. They were suddenly afraid of God. As was their custom He came to walk with them but in terror they hid from their loving—but Holy Creator. If you continue to read you see the birth of all kinds of sin—leading to death itself.
And don’t think, “If I had been in their shoes, I wouldn’t have eaten of the fruit! I wouldn’t have picked the WRONG tree! What a couple idiots! How could they do something so stupid!” Don’t proudly embrace that thought—because you know better. We all do what Adam and Eve did.
Every day we all break God’s loving laws. Every dad we “pick” the wrong behaviors. We know not to sin but we do so any way. We know to do right—but so many times we don’t. We entertain sinful thoughts.
And here’s why. Adam and Eve’s picking of the WRONG tree changed them—and that change has been passed down to every human being since. Randy Frazee writes, “The tree lived up to its name. Evil was deposited alongside truth in the DNA of Adam and Eve—and in the DNA of every human being who came after them.” Because our ancestors picked the wrong tree, we are all fallen—we are all sinners—we are all broken.
Paul Richardson tells about a time he and his wife searched for the right Christmas Tree. He writes: “There it stood—the best tree in the lot. It was the second Christmas of our married life, and with newlywed-like impulse—we decided to forego the two-foot high plastic tree that graced our coffee table the year before. We had found the perfect tree instead. It was wide at the base and came to a perfect point on top. With blissful Christmas cheer we paid the $25, maneuvered it into our ’77 Chevy Citation, and drove to our apartment. I cleared a spot next to the couch and set it up in the corner. At least I TRIED to set it up in the corner. Our perfect tree immediately fell, turning our tree stand into green and red scrap metal. Another tree-stand and multiple attempts only brought about the same problem: the tree wouldn’t stand up. When I probed into the forest of green needles, I discovered our perfect tree had a huge FLAW. The base of the tree began straight and centered, but the middle of the trunk contorted in pretzel-like twists, bending this way and that, but coming out straight at the top. It was perfect on the outside but hopelessly flawed within. It could never stand on its own. In our not-so-perfect Christmas tree I saw the story of Christmas. On the outside we like to show that we have it all together: ‘Tis the season to be jolly!’ But inside we know differently: hurts, pains, disappointments, anger, and bitterness. Worse yet, there is that contortion of our souls the Bible calls sin. No matter how many ornaments Lisa and I hung on our tree, we knew it could never stand on its own. And no matter how many ornaments we attach to our lives, we can never be right with God on our own. The Christmas story is not about God seeing how nice we were and coming down to spend time with sweet people. It is the story of God seeing twisted, hurting, sinful people, and coming down to die for us. It is a story about love. God came to save us from sin. While it entailed the joy of a new baby being born, it also ended up with Jesus taking our sins upon Himself and dying as our substitute.”
That’s the beauty of the Christmas Story. Adam and Eve ate from the WRONG tree—they disobeyed God and we follow suit—but God loves us too much to let things stay that way—So, 200 years ago He send His only Son. Jesus was born to die on ANOTHER tree. His death on that tree made it possible for mankind to get back what they lost that horrible day in the garden. Listen—no one can get Christmas RIGHT—until they pick THIS tree—the Cross that Jesus died on—the ONLY RIGHT tree. It’s not possible to really understand what Christmas is all about unless we remember that Jesus was born to die on a TREE.
I love a Christmas card we got last week. It shows a Christmas tree and as you unfold it you see—well, here it is. It says: “When you strip away all the tinsel and glitter—God’s real truth shines through.” This is the PERFECT card because it reminds us that all our problems all began with a tree—and they are solved by ANOTHER one—the one Jesus hung on.
Have you heard this song by the Ball Brothers?
It’s not just about the manger Where the Baby lay
It’s not all about the angels Who sing for Him that day
It’s not just about the shepherds or the bright and shining star
It’s not all about the wise men Who traveled from afar
It’s about the cross—It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once so that we could be born again
It’s about the stone That was rolled away So that you and I could have real life someday
It’s about the cross It’s about the cross
The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate
It’s about the cross It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once So that we could be born again
It’s about God’s love Nailed to a tree
It’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me
It’s about the stone That was rolled away So that you and I could have real life someday.
It’s about the Cross. It’s about the cross!
Every Christmas Eve as Christians we celebrate the day each of us made life’s most important decision right—by picking the RIGHT tree. We do this—we remember Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf by sharing communion. As we share this meal, let me invite all Christians present to partake with us because even if you are not a member of this church…if you are a Christian…if you are His, this is Yours.