The decorating of the Christmas tree up on Rocky Top has always been a festive time….Christmas carols playing in the background, the smell of a freshly cut tree in the air, a crackling fire glowing in the fire place, crab bites (a family favorite) and sparkling Welch’s.
Not so much this year. As I sat on the floor going through ornaments, I begin to quietly cry. Over half of our ornaments were given to us by people we had pastored in the past. Satan whispered in my ear, “No more ornaments for you. That part of your life is done. You don’t even have one from your own mother. And she’s dead now. ”
Preacher didn’t know what was going on in my heart as we began to decorate the tree. I had chosen not to make any crab bites and the Christmas music playing in the background almost seemed annoying.
After it was decorated, we stood back to admire the work and I think I just let out a sigh. Normally we sing a Christmas carol together as Preacher turns on the lights. Not this year.
A few days later as we were traveling for our new ministry, I received a text from a friend who had agreed to come take care of our home and water our Christmas tree while we were traveling. The text read, “Here is how I found your tree.” It was followed by a picture of the tree turned over, stand and all, water everywhere with pieces of broken ornaments scattered throughout the room.
My heart sunk. I did not cry. Sadness just enveloped me. Two dear friends cleaned it all up and even tied the tree to the back door to keep it standing up.
Upon returning home, Preacher and I once again decorated the tree. Determining to change my perspective and heart, crab bites were made along with cookies. Maybe food would soothe my wounded, grieving heart.
The tree stood proud for one week.
After a long day of ministry and Christmas shopping, I walked into the house to once again find the eight foot Christmas tree lying on the floor with more broken ornaments and a water soaked tree skirt.
This Rocky Top girl would like to tell you she worshipped, kept perspective by remembering so many people who are going through much worse things than a fallen tree but I did not.
I sat in the middle of the mess and began to just sob and yell at God.
When Preacher got home, he helped me clean it up. He offered to attempt to stand it up again.
“No! Get it out of my home. Tomorrow I will buy a fake tree.” I yelled.
Preacher carried it out and threw it over the cliff on the back of Rocky Top.
The next morning when I sat with Jesus so many emotions swirled in my heart and head…..from anger to shame to failure.
As I opened His word He spoke with gentleness:
“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Matthew 12:18-21
Through His word, Jesus reminded me of why He came. He came to sit with me in all my mess.
Christmas is grace in our failure.
Christmas is forgiveness to those who wound and betray us.
Christmas is strength when we are weak.
Christmas is justice and not judgement.
Christmas is peace in chaos.
Christmas is joy in our deepest sadness.
Christmas is comfort in our grief.
Christmas is knowing He will lead when we are wandering.
Christmas is your mentor, your Timothy, and your children giving you ornaments of truth to hang around your neck instead of glass ones that will eventually break. (Proverbs 1:9)
Christmas is HOPE in what we believe to be hopelessness.
We want Christmas to be filled with laughter, fun, gifts and happiness.
Sometimes Christmas is just remembering that in all the hurt, in all the pain, in all the change, in all the disappointments in life, whether they are big or small, Jesus came to give us Himself.
Emmanuel………God with us!
The HOPE of the world.
P.S. The fake Christmas tree with pre-lit lights is standing proudly up on Rocky Top.