Two Trees

12/14/2014

PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE
B.J. FUNK

The Christmas carolers sing out on a cold winter’s night:

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Much pleasure thou can’st give me; How often has the Christmas Tree afforded me the greatest glee; O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Much pleasure thou can’st give me.”

It is a message of hope and joy.

In the distance, another tree is honored, the church choir lending their lovely sounds to this tree’s message.

“On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain.”

It is a message of hope and joy.

The Christmas carolers sing out even louder:

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Thy candles shine so brightly; From base to summit, gay and bright, there’s only splendor for the sight. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, thy candles shine so brightly!”

It is a message of shining light.

But the music of the church choir rings out even louder:

“In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see; For ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, to pardon and sanctify me.”

It is a message of wondrous inner light, given freely to those who accept the cross’s message.

The carolers continue: “O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! How richly God has decked thee. Thou bidst us true and faithful be, and trust in God unchangingly. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, How richly God has decked thee.”

It is a message of being true to the beauty of a man-decorated tree.

And, the choir sings on:

“To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, where His glory forever I’ll share.”

It’s a call to be true to the message of the tree that formed a cross, to the reproach placed upon my shoulder because I am a believer, and to the forward look to my final Home, made possible by the man who hung on this tree.

Two trees, each with a purpose. Two trees, loved by us all. We can never have the tree of the old rugged cross without the first tree, the tree that joins our families as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Sing them together. Sing them side by side. Let each tree bring you into the beauty and joy of our Savior’s birth, death and resurrection.

Be thankful for both. If you stop, however, to worship the popularity of the first tree, you will be lost in the excitement of Christmas, the excitement of the holidays.

If you stop to worship the One who hung on the unpopular cross, dying on a man-made rugged tree, you won’t. You won’t be lost.

The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email her at bjfunk@bellsouth.net.