Christmas Trees in Lent? (Part 2)
Jeremiah 10:16Yesterday, our reflection focused on Jeremiah 10:2-4, a passage that prohibited carving idols from trees, decorating them, and setting them up for pagan worship. This passage does not, I explained, refer to or prohibit the use of Christmas trees, unless you’re inclined to worship your tree.
I admitted yesterday that Christmas trees don’t belong in Lent, but, on the basis of Jeremiah 10, they provided a way to underscore the importance of careful Bible study. Today I’m going to reflect a bit further on Christmas trees, believe it or not. Once again, they are not the main point, but they provide an illustration of how we are to think about the enjoyment of the material world, including decorated fir trees.
Jeremiah 10 contrasts the powerless Gentile “gods” with the one true God. The pagan gods are no more than idols made from material stuff. In contrast, the God of Israel made the stuff: “But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists” (10:16). Nothing in earth or heaven exists except by the creative power and will of God. Nothing. Yes, the world has been tainted by sin and is badly in need of redemption. The time will come when God will restore creation, thanks be to God. But, in the meanwhile, we are able and encouraged to enjoy the goodness of God’s stuff, within the bounds of his revealed guidance.
Thus, though it is surely wrong to set up a tree, carving and decorating it in order to worship it, it is not wrong to use a decorated tree for holiday celebrations. Fir trees were created by God to be useful and to be enjoyed. God made them such a beautiful shade of green and gave them what I believe to be the most heavenly scent. Moreover, God gave us the abilities to see, to smell, and to enjoy. He made his creation beautiful and made us so that we might delight in it. The beauty of this world stands as a signpost, pointing to the all-surpassing beauty, generosity, and glory of the Creator.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What parts of God’s creation give you the most joy? How can we enjoy the creation without being tempted to worship it?PRAYER: Creator God, how I praise you today for the wonders of your creation. Thank you for the expansive grandeur of the mountains, for the brisk coolness of a river on a hot summer day, and, indeed, for the entrancing aroma of a fresh fir tree.
Thank you, dear Lord, for giving me the ability to see, to hear, to touch, to taste, and to smell your creation. Thank you for enabling me to enjoy what my senses perceive.
Even as I enjoy the good gifts of your world, help me not to misuse them, or to focus so much on their goodness that I begin to worship them. May the glories of this world always point me to your far greater glory.
All praise be to you, O God, for you have made all things! Amen.