After the reign of King David (the son of Jesse), God brought judgement upon the faithless people of Israel reducing them down to a small remnant. Abraham's family tree was chopped down to the stump. God's covenant promise to bless the world seemed hopeless and forgotten. But in God's own mysterious way, He promised to one day spring to life an everlasting kingdom from the very stump that appeared to be dead.
This Sunday we enter into the season known as Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means coming. Traditionally, Advent is celebrated as the season leading up to Christmas which begins exactly four Sundays before December 25th. As early as the fourth century A.D., Christians would normally fast during this season because the whole purpose of Advent was to look forward to the second coming of Christ.
When it comes to the classical American Christmas, it’s not a stretch to say that Santa Claus has become the heralded hero of the holidays for almost every girl and boy with an imagination. He is the seemingly overweight omnipresent bearded resident of the North Pole with a magical sleigh powered by flying reindeer and little helpers who help him check a list that weighs the deeds of the naughty and nice in order to administer the appropriate gifts to all. In the middle of a season in which we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of our Savior, where in the world did Santa first enter the scene?
Have you ever taken time to stop and wonder, "Why am I cutting down this tree and bringing it into my home in order to spend the next two hours decorating it with lights, ribbons, balls, bells, stars, angels, and the fifty cheap paper ornaments my children made this month in Sunday school?" What is this tree supposed to commemorate? And if we’re honest, what does a decorated tree have to do with the birth of Jesus?