Of course, trees have always had an important place in the Christian message: woe entered the world when our first parents took the fruit from the forbidden tree. And this woe was turned to wonder, when Jesus died on the tree of the cross for us. An ancient English carol sings of this beautiful truth at Christmas.
Adam lay ybounden Bounden in a bond Four thousand winters Though he not too long And all was for an apple An apple that he took As clerkes finden written in their book.
The song tells of the four-thousand, frozen winters—when Adam lay bound to the earth: stuck in the clay. And then, the carol reasons, that if the apple hadn’t been taken a Saviour would never have come. So, blessed be the time—because it has meant that after the cruel winter, a springtime is promised by the birth of the Virgin’s child.
It’s the promise of this springtime—in the dead and cold of winter—that caused Christians to bring trees to church and to cover them with lights. To praise God that, in winter of our misery, he has sent us his Son.
They say the Christmas tree is full of the symbolism of faith. The Christmas tree is always an ever-green—like God’s life, it’s life never fades or fails. It’s shaped like a triangle—the symbol of the Trinity—pointing to the heavens. It is to these heavens that Jesus came to raise us through the mysterious tree: the Cross—to lift us from the misery of this world to everlasting life in heaven. So, the Christmas tree is covered with lights—as Jesus, the Light of the world, shows the way to heaven and takes us there—so the Christmas tree points to our destiny.
This year, perhaps more than ever, our spirits need lifting—our hearts raising up. Our all-bright, beautiful tall tree lifts our eyes from the cold, dark earth—with all its woes—to the bright light of heaven: our hope.
I think it will be a beautiful thing to gather round the big, bright tree in our church garden on Christmas Eve and sing to God of his goodness in coming to save us through his Son. It’s a chance for us to witness to what we believe—that God is with us and brings us light and life.
Blessed be the time That apple taken was Therefore we bound singen Deo gracias Deo gracias!