THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE
Her branches were nearly bare. Only a few withered leaves remained, fluttering in the late autumn wind. Leaves lay brown and crispy on the ground around her trunk, her Long branches raised as if in worship. This was the special year. She had been chosen.
Throughout the pounding rains and freezing winds, small clusters of withered fruits huddled close together, clinging desperately to her brittle twigs, holding tight to mother tree. They weren't ready for the transformation to come.
It wasn't time.
Then one hard December freeze and a blustery wind broke them free. The seeds drifted to the ground nestling deep beneath the leaves where they slept until the robins awakened them in the spring.
He awoke with a start as he heard the song of the birds. Happy to feel the warmth of the sun and enjoying his place in the earth, he dug in and grew.
During his first years he thrived. His roots grew long and strong and his branches became longer and multiplied. His leaves were shiny and without blemish. He gave his furry and feathered friends shelter from the hot sun and the harsh rains. Friends of every shape and color visited him often. He welcomed each one and gladly supported them on his strong young branches.
Through the seasons and years he grew taller and stronger. The high winds barely rustled his smaller branches. His roots held him firmly in place. The hot summer sun toasted the grass around him until it was dry and yellowed, and some of the other trees withered away, but not him.
It wasn't time.
His roots had grown so deeply that they drew life giving water and nourishment from far under the soils surface. He thrived and grew more beautiful and strong.
His branches stretched up toward the heavens.
Many seasons passed, and he grew more magnificent with each. His once young and spindly branches had become huge, very strong and gloriously beautiful. He was a king among all his kind, admired and loved.
Then one day a woodsman came.
It was time.
All of his friends were frightened and left him. He stood alone as the sharp axe cut into his trunk. He wished for the comfort of his friends, but one one remained. He was sad to be leaving this place he had known and loved and his heart was broken to be leaving his dear friends but he had a mission. This was the design of the most high.
The carpenter prepared me. He removed my bark and cut deep into my trunk. My sap puddled in the dust as he worked and shavings mounded all around. Then finally, after hours of work, he laid me on the ground. I was ready.
It was time.
Then came many men, dragging, pushing, hitting and kicking the battered and bloody man Jesus, who lifted me onto his torn and bleeding back and dragged me up to Golgotha Hill. He stumbled once, twice. He fell. A kind soul offered him water, but most onlookers offered hateful remarks and threw stones and foul things at him. His tears washed rivulets of blood down his pain stricken face, but he trudged on. He was bruised, bleeding and weeping in every kind of pain as he stumbled up the steep path. I felt his determination again and again, as he moved forward.
It was time.
At the top of the hill I was placed on the ground and the man Jesus was laid over me. Men came with large mallets and long iron spikes. To the gasps of onlookers they drove these spikes through the hands and feet of the man Jesus and nailed him to my solid frame. Several strong men lifted me upright and placed my lower part into a deep hole, packing rock and soil dirmly around to hold me in place. There were two others on either side of me and the man Jesus, but I felt alone with him. I was created for him.
I heard when he asked his father to forgive those who had brought him to this agony, and when he told the robber beside him "today you will be in paradise with me."
I saw his mothers face, wet with tears as he told his beloved apostle John, to take care of her. I felt his life-blood as it flowed from his wounded body.
Thse who loved him most stayed closeby, weeping and praying. After long suffering I heard him speak,
"Father, Father why have you forsaken me?" There was silence, not even a bird or a cricket made a sound. They offered him sour wine when he thirsted, he turned his face away.
After hours of pain, gasping for breath he spoke, "It is finished."
Those who loved him looked up at the face of the one they wept for.
As he spoke, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit," the earth was hushed.
I felt his weight hang heavy on my frame when his spirit was released.
Suddenly the heavens became dark as night, The ground beneath me began to shake violently, I heard the earth scraping as it split open into deep chasms. A thunderous roar nearly drowned out the terrified screams of the people as they ran in terror. Lightening cracked sporadically, illuminating the earth and I saw it open and swallow many as they fled in terror. Wild fires shot from the heavens and earth as fiery balls of hail smashed angrily to the ground and burned hot as tinder. Tombs were opened and many of the saints that slept were raised up from their grave, but the man Jesus remained nailed to me, his life spent, his blood staining my frame.
The cart came to take his body away. His mother and friends followed as he was taken to the cave for burial. I watched as the huge stone was rolled into place and I well remember the day the Angel came with a horrific flash of lightening and rolled the stone away from the cave entrance sitting on it as the Man Jesus came walking out smoothing his robe and shaking it free of dust. I watched as he assended to his father knowing that I have served my mission. I felt honored and proud to have been chosen.
A little child below me asked his father, "why did he do it, why didn't he run to the mountains and hide?" His father answered, " because he loves us son even more than he loved his life."
Have you accepted Jesus as your savior yet?