Author: Deborah Voss
This is the story of our Christmas tree, a very special tree and so very 2020. We had actually decided not to get a tree this year. We do so much Advent for the children in our preschool, and at church, that by the time we hit winter break the energy it takes to get into decorating our personal space is limited. And we knew that this year winter break would be taken up insulating and finishing our garage so that it would pass licensing for a “Covid” indoor/outdoor space to use with our preschool. So this year we would forego a tree.
And then, as I was on the Nextdoor app, someone posted a small “Charlie Brown” tree that they were giving away and I thought – ok, not too big, we could manage that! A string of lights and a few of our favorite ornaments and we could enjoy it in the evening, so let’s do it. Ginger went out to pick it up, found it next to the garage where they said it would be, and knocked on the door to say thank you. The woman who answered told her the story of this little tree. They had gone up to her parents’ mountain property to see if it had survived the fire and found this tree which had been cut down by the fire fighters who were trying to save the home. It hadn’t burned where many around it had, so they picked it up and brought it home. Now we had this sweet “fire tree” as our Christmas tree.
We set it up; the tree stand was too big so we used small blocks of wood between the screws and the trunk and got it as straight as we could. We tested a string of lights and strung it, then found our most special ornaments and finished decorating it within an hour. Then we sat down to enjoy it and… the string of lights went out… Ginger and I played with the bulbs, found the replacement bulbs; nothing worked and the lights remained unlit. We toyed with the idea of undecorating the tree, removing the lights and redoing the whole thing and then we decided that it was perfect just the way it was. And we’ve come in after working in the garage each evening and delighted in our very special 2020 Fire Christmas Tree.
In these tender days after Christmas as we gaze into the future trying to grasp hold of the promise of Christmas – of hope, of peace, of joy – of love igniting once again in a tattered world, we walk into the deep mystery of this time of year. And we know that we cannot return home by the same route. We know that we have been changed this year in ways that we have yet to understand, and that we are being called back together in a new way.
Like the Magi following a star, we search for that light in the darkness that will guide us into a new world, the pain-filled birth pangs we’ve been feeling for so long. And we feel deep in our bones, in our hearts, in the very fabric of our being that it is time! It is time! It is time! We are ALIVE for this time and we are, we pray, ready. As we approach Epiphany, we gather our courage, our strength, our faith, and our love to heed the call to carry the light into an uncertain future to give birth to LOVE, a new LOVE. Birth is imminent just as it was in the stable in Bethlehem. Like the fragile fire tree that survived the largest conflagration in Colorado’s history and played its role to be cut as part of an effort to stop the advance of ravenous flames, so too are we, as small as we may feel, a part of the ushering in of a mass Epiphany of transformative love and the birth of a new world. I’ll end with one of my most treasured Christmas readings, First Coming by Madeleine L’Engle.
God did not wait till the world was ready,
‘till…nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
God did not wait ‘till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
God came, and God’s Light would not go out.
God came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
We cannot wait! It is time! We are ready! Be not afraid!