Last year around this time we noticed that many people had put their Christmas trees up at home. Not the shops that want you to buy their stuff, but regular people like you and me.
People were watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music, and eating Christmas foods way earlier than they usually would have.
Why was 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 people did last year, 2020, was 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 was that last 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 was a strange year, wasn’t it? It didn’t go according to any of our plans. In fact, for most of us, we’ve never lived through a year like it. It put us in situations of separation, of uncertainty, of anguish, and of heartache. At times like this, we need hope.
So what about this year, 2021? Are you decorating early?
See, 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.
If you have 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 will be free to throw that tree in the corner and switch on those lights whenever we want to (and not crazy early) because our hope is firmly rooted in the truth of the Word of God and the Word become flesh, Jesus.
If 2020 left you feeling a little hopeless, putting your tree up early was a good idea. This year, thinking deeper and leaning harder on the truth of Jesus for your hope, encouragement, and reassurance, put that tree up whenever you like (although not yet!).