For the past couple of years, Christmas trees seem to be appearing earlier and earlier. Not in the shops that want you to buy their stuff, but in the homes of regular people like you and me. It seems that people are watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, and eating Christmas foods way earlier than ever before.
Why is that?
Is it a Bahrain-specific thing: I’m traveling soon but want to enjoy some Christmas cheer here before I leave? Perhaps … but there might be a bigger-picture reason.
When we decorate for Christmas, when we put up the tree and switch on the lights, what are we really doing? For some, it begins and ends there:
Decorating the home looks nice.
Twinkling lights look nice.
Mince pies taste nice.
Michael Bublé sounds nice.
For some, it’s very surface-level. It’s just … nice.
But, on a deeper level, when we put up the tree and switch on the lights, what are we really doing?
What we’re doing is turning our eyes and hearts and minds towards hope.
When we put up the tree and switch on the lights, we’re putting a (very) visual reminder in our homes and lives that something better is coming.
We’re telling ourselves that the lives we live in the here and now are not all that there is and all that there will ever be. We’re turning eyes and hearts and minds to hope:
The hope of a coming child, a son, through whom we can live a peace-filled life (Isaiah 9.6).
The hope of restoration to right relationship with God and the close and intimate fellowship this brings (Revelation 21.3).
The hope that there’s something, someone, bigger, greater, and above it all who loves you, cares for you, and stepped down into fallen creation to rescue you from it all (Philippians 2.5-11).
The last few years were strange, weren’t they?
They put us in situations of separation, of uncertainty, of anguish, and of heartache. At times like this, we need hope.
If we look to the world around us for hope, for encouragement, and for the reassurance that tomorrow will be better, then each and every year we may just end up putting the tree up a little bit earlier. Just think—if you’re having a bad year, maybe your tree will go up in the summer …
But, if we look only to Jesus for hope, for encouragement, and for the reassurance that tomorrow will be better, then we’ll be free to throw that tree up and switch on those lights whenever we want to because our hope is firmly rooted in the truth of the Word of God and the Word become flesh, Jesus.
So, when should we put up the tree and switch on the lights? I guess it depends on why you’re doing so. Thinking deeper and leaning harder on the truth of Jesus for your hope, encouragement, and reassurance this festive season, put that tree up whenever you like.