Have you put your Christmas tree up early this year?
Are you watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, and eating Christmas foods already?
It seems that this year people are ready and willing to get into the festive spirit a little earlier than usual, doesn’t it? In our house, we have a 1 December rule: the tree goes up on 1 December along with all the lights and other Christmas paraphernalia. Given that my birthday is in November, it just feels weird to decorate and prepare for Christmas before that. But, looking around this year, it seems that quite a few people have jumped forward to decorating day already.
Why is that?
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 with that: decorating and making the house look 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, what does all this do for us? When we put up the tree and switch on the lights what are we really doing?
What we’re doing is something that, in a regular year, is important. What we’re doing, given the year that many have had in 2020, is extra important. See, what we’re doing when we decorate and prepare to commemorate, is to turn our eyes and hearts and minds toward hope. How important is that this year?
When we put up the tree and switch on the lights we are putting a (very) visual reminder in our homes and lives that something better is coming. We are 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 are 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 is 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).
2020 has been a year that has knocked the wind out of us. It hasn’t gone according to any of our plans. In fact, for most of us, we’ve never lived through a year like this. It’s put us in situations of separation, of uncertainty, of anguish, and of heartache. At times like this, we need hope.
Do you know what, if part of that comes from putting up a tree, from switching on lights, from eating seasonal food, or from listening to different music, then do it. All of those things, and this season in general, all point us to the coming hope that Jesus is.
So, if 2020 has left you feeling a little hopeless, perhaps it’s time to put your tree up.