Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year!

Lessons learned from a Christmas tree . . .  yes, a Christmas tree!

Since we live not far from the tree farms where many of our nation's lovely Frasier fir Christmas trees are grown, we've come to know a little bit about how they grow, and how much labor and love goes into the growing.

Some of the tree growers are old hands at the business, and they are quite skilled at the pruning that is required to make a lovely tree. And as Christians, we need pruning, too:

              He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch
              that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You
              are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me,
              as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain
              in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine;
              you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much
              fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are
              like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up,
              thrown into the fire and burned.   (John 15:2-6)

It usually takes about twelve years for the trees to reach maturity; they reach a height that is prized by consumers and they are cut and shipped to tree lots for happy couples and families to consider and purchase.
As Christians, it takes many years for us to reach spiritual maturity (personally, I'm not there yet, but I'm still trying!).  And yes, it takes work, in addition to time, in order to grow in grace:

               Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son
               of God, unto a perfect person, unto a measure of the stature of the fullness
               of Christ.  (Ephesians 4:13-15)

               You, therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest
               you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own
               steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and
               Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
               (II Peter 3:17-18)

I've noticed, too, that the trunk of a Christmas tree doesn't have to be perfectly straight, nor does it matter if there are gaps in the branches. When it's decorated, it looks great!
As Christians, when we are "decorated" with the gifts of the Spirit, we look better, too:

               ....the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, good-
               ness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there
               is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with
               its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step
               with the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22-25)

Christmas trees are a beautiful witness of the day we have chosen to celebrate our Lord's birth. And as His followers, we should be a witness for Him, too:

               In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see
               your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
               (Matthew 5:16)
You can learn a lot from a Christmas tree!


Austin Towers said...

Brilliant analogy! I think I am possibly still a sapling in pine tree terms!

Happy New Year, Jacque x

Belinda said...

This is wonderful! And it really hit home for me. I am not yet fully grown of course, and I can see broken branches on the ground, laying about me. I need pruning, and I think that's exactly what's been happening to me the last few days.

Our Sunday morning Bible study teacher challenged us to take one word, and focus on that word for the coming year. Hers was Joy. I think mine needs to be Faithfulness. I've moved away from being involved in God's work, and further into myself and my own life and woes. God grant me the strength to break away from that and "grow" my way out.

I have to share this... I noticed two days before Christmas, some leftover live trees at Walmart. It made me sad to know they had been lovingly grown, watered, fed, and pruned, and there they sat. Alone, forgotten and unneeded. It was no fault of their own, but how many of us are like those trees because either we have pulled away from the "Caretaker" to go our own way, or we have been cast out of the lives of others who don't need us because they have grown away from God. I don't know if that makes sense, but it was in my heart and I needed to share it.

Cathy said...

What a beautiful post. The next time we go out to get a Christmas tree, I'll have to remember it. And not just then, but all the time. Every experience in our lives contributes to our "pruning", the good ones and the bad. The times when we are faithful to our churches, and our studies, and also the times when we think we've grown away from them. The beauty of it is that, while we may feel that we've not been as faithful as we should to God, He is always faithful to us.