Each tree is themed. To me, a Christmas tree can tell a story by the decorations it holds. I love all of my trees, but there's one that is actually where my heart lives. It's our keepsake tree. It's the tree that began in December of 1992. Jeff and I got married in November and we received ornaments as gifts. My mother-in-law started a tradition of giving us a Hallmark ornament with our picture every year. This tree started out as a 4 foot table top, but has since grown into the 9 foot tree. The tree if filled with special ornaments from Hallmark keepsakes, vacation destinations, handmade by my children, and ornaments I've inherited after the loss of loved ones. This tree truly is the heart of our home.
As I began unpacking the crates with these precious decorations, the Holy Spirit began to stir my heart with some thoughts. It all came together in my morning devotions when a particular scripture jumped off the page. This scripture pulled it all together for me. This is the story of the eternal keepsake tree.
The Christmas tree is usually an evergreen. This means it never changes color like trees with leaves. This tree is green, even in the coldest and darkest months. This symbolizes eternal life. The lights in the tree are symbolic of Jesus being the light of the world. As I looked at my tree, I realized the tree really symbolizes the cross. Over 2000 years ago, the light of the world hung on a tree to conquer sin and death once and for all.
One morning I was doing my daily Bible reading and I came across this scripture in Isaiah. "Look around you and see, for all your children will come back to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “they will be like jewels or bridal ornaments for you to display." (Isaiah 49:18 NLT) All of the sudden, I looked at those ornaments that are placed so purposefully on my tree and realized we are God's ornaments. Each of us is like an ornament to God. Jesus died for every one of us. Just as my ornaments are from special people and places and given or bought throughout our marriage. We, like these ornaments are different and even though we were purchased at Jesus' death, we are placed on the tree in purposeful locations and are collected over the years.
Thinking about what keepsake really means, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to separate the word and define each word. The word "keep" is to have possession of. The word "sake" is in order to preserve. Think about that. Jesus died for us so that we could become His "keepsake." First Peter 2:9 says, "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." We were chosen by God to be His ornaments to show others the goodness of God. The light of Jesus shines through us, just like the lights on the tree highlight the ornaments. It's really the light behind the ornaments that give them their beauty.
What a picture this is to me of salvation and what Jesus did for us at the cross. As we head into the darkest days of the year and not only seasonally, but truly as we seem to be heading into the the darkest days of this pandemic, it's time for the ornaments of Christ to shine. It's in these times when we can allow the glory of God to work through us giving a lost world hope for the future.
We were are here on this earth for such a time as this. Jesus told us we were the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). It's time for us to shine the love of Jesus to the hopeless, fearful, sick, and the lost. This Christmas, my prayer is that the Keepsake Tree of Jesus would be surrounded with those who choose the gift of eternal life. He said in John 12:32, "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (NLT) I pray this Christmas the cross shines brighter than ever.