How long does your family leave the Christmas tree up? A week, or two maybe? I guess it depends on whether or not you have a real tree. I mean, technically, if you have one of the fake ones, you could let that bad boy stand there in your living room all year long, proud and tall; but if you have a real tree, you’ve got to get it on out of there… Well, I should say you need to get it on out of there. I’ll never forget the time in high school when I went over to my friend Apurva’s house and walked into the living room only to find a Christmas tree that was completely dead and brown from the top to the bottom. By the way, it was the middle of June! When I walked in, Apurva said his dad was wondering if we wouldn’t mind taking the tree down… Hello!
To be honest, I was pretty scared to go near the tree. It was drooping there by an enormous window like a rickety old man, fragile and weathered. I was so afraid that at any moment a beam of sunlight refracted through the window would cause the sad, dead stick of a thing to suddenly burst into flames, like a last gasp of life. I looked at Apurva and said, “Why in the world is this thing still up?! Are you crazy?” He said his dad had pestered him for ages to take it down, but he just never got around to it. I told him he should be thankful that the tree never got around to burning his house down! In a heightened sense of my own mortality, I helped my friend slowly and gingerly remove the ornaments from this unpredictable fire hazard and then we picked it up and started to make our way out of the house. I was sweating… trying my hardest to avoid all possible friction, not letting even one of the dry, lifeless needles rub against anything. There was a moment there when we were almost out of the front door when I was afraid that all that fresh oxygen outside plus the tight squeeze of the door jamb would actually cause the thing to combust; but no, we made it. We went across the street and tossed the tired tannenbaum into the woods. I stood there for a bit, just knowing that at any moment that thing would explode, but nothing.
As I write this, it’s the very last day of 2010, and to be honest, I’m a bit tired. When I woke up today, I was really feeling the last day of the year. In some ways, I felt like Apurva’s old Christmas tree: dry and used up; but then I rubbed my eyes, opened up the Scriptures, said good morning to the Lord who never sleeps and asked Him to meet with me. As I read, something strange and sweet started happening: I began to feel revived. I started to feel fresh, green and strong. If you will, I began to stretch my branches and take in the warm sunlight (even though the sun hasn’t yet risen on this cold, winter day).
Check out these verses from a few different Psalms: “Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers… The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green… I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”
As an old year ends today and a new year begins tomorrow, I don’t want to be dry, sad and brown. I want to be planted. I want to be rooted, strong, green and growing in the love of God.