The world first tallest real Christmas tree is a Douglas fir tree of 219 feet (67 meters) high at Northgate Shopping Centre in Seattle decorated during the Christmas of 1950. According to the Guinness book of record 2007, the people of Brazil erected the largest floating Christmas tree in Rio De Janeiro, reaching up to 278 feet (85 meters). Sitting now at the Rockefeller Centre midtown Manhattan New York is the 94 foot Christmas tree (a Norwegian Spruce). In 2012, the total cost of erecting the tree and decoration was more than $75,000.
Sri Lanka is currently erecting what will turn out to be the tallest Christmas tree in the world. The record-breaking 325 feet (99 meters) tall Christmas accessory is scheduled to light on Christmas Eve in the executive and judicial capital city of Colombo. The 1.2 million Catholics in the country, led by the Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, criticized the $80,600 (12 Million Sri Lankan Rupees) project as wasteful. The Prime Minister Wicremnnesinghe responded by saying that expense is on private donations. It is sad to learn that Sri Lanka that just emerged from a 26-year civil war in 2009 will be embarking on such a project, call it government money or private donation; where is Christ in these Christmas trees?
The Christmas season is here again not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world. When you go out what do you see; Christmas cribs reminding the world about the humble birth of the Savior of the world? No! Do you see Mary and Joseph performing some parental duties in that stinking domain of animals? No! What do you see? We see homes and public places decorated with bright twinkling led lights and crystal embedded ornaments; we see exotic Christmas trees. We see an increase in shopping and spending; we see new clothes and shoes, we experience celebration everywhere, but we cannot behold the celebrant. We encounter a celebration of Christmas without Christ; we have a galaxy of Father Christmases without the Father of Christmas. We see Christmas without Christ which is the crisis of the season.
I am still searching for the ideal Christmas decoration that will outdo all other forms of decorations we have now and the ones we may have in the future. Nobody may find the perfect Christmas decoration in New York nor Sri Lanka. We can only discover it at the birthplace of the Lord; the new Bethlehem which is our hearts. Isaac Watts in his “Joy to the World” instructed: “Let every heart prepare him room!”. The room we are expected to make for the King of the universe should have the best decoration ever. He does not need expensive accessories like the 45,000 led lights of the Rockefeller Christmas tree. The decoration consists of three things “repentance, faith, and love.”
The Savior cannot be born in a sinful heart. The voice crying in the wilderness reminds us to “prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight” (Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:3). This invitation calls us to repentance. Repentance is not a grammatical affirmation, it is rather a spiritual activity; in fact, a spiritual reconstruction. God is always calling us to repentance (Isaiah 1:18), and He has promised to blot out our transgressions and our sins He will remember no more (Isaiah 43:25).
The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ challenges us to decorate our hearts with faith. Our Savior cannot be born into a faithless heart; in fact, we cannot please him without faith (Heb. 11:6). The word of God tells us to turn away from our faithlessness and return to Him (Jer. 3:14). There is a need for us to increase our faith quotient in God.
Today, most people place more hope and confidence in human beings and material things than in God. We trust our technology more than our theology. We are interested in success than in spirituality. We depend on grades more than grace; we don’t want to pray but we want to progress, we seek magic instead of a miracle. Writing to the Ephesians St. Paul enjoins us to take up faith as a shield against the attack of the evil one (Eph.6:16). Though there could be a devil at every level with our faith in God, we shall conquer.
Love provides the basic summary of this season. Christmas is the celebration of God’s love demonstrated in the coming of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. God loved us even in our sinfulness (Romans 5:8). His love conquers all thing and endures all things (1 Cor.13:7). Love is a beautiful spiritual ornament which can decorate our hearts this season. The Savior cannot allow his birth to take place in a heart that lacks the love of God and neighbor (Matt.22:36-40).
Love is not what we feel because feelings can change. Love does not consist in beautiful words; they could be flattery. Love is all about what we do; it is a doing word. To love is to make sacrifices for others and that is what our Savior did for us (John 15:13), and he commanded us to love one another as the confirmation of unity in him (John 13:34-35). True love challenges us to charity this season. Charity to those who are unable to pay us back in any form.
The Story of the Nativity is a profound expression of charity from above. We did not qualify for God’s gift of His Son for our redemption, but He gave us His Son without cost on our part. We could appreciate the charity of the unnamed owner of the place where Jesus Christ is born. He or she gave the first human gift to the new born king though no one has taken the time to talk about like we do about the gifts of the wise men. When there was no room for the Savior, someone was kind enough to give what he/she could afford. The unnamed owner of the manger represents anyone of us who is willing to do charity to anyone who is in need, like the small family of Joseph and Mary.
We have a lot of decorations around us in the world today but how many hearts will receive the ideal decoration? Many people are fascinated with the sounds and sights of Christmas decorations but how many hungry mouths would benefit from these. Why is the world so wasteful on Christmas without reference to Christ? It is very unfortunate that the world is redefining Christmas and turning it into a huge holiday that marks the end of the calendar year. Where is Christ in your Christmas?
The ideal decoration is the decoration of our hearts. The decoration of our hearts would outlive and outdo all the lofty Christmas decorations that would surely go extinct by the end of the first week of January. We need to retrace our steps by a life of repentance. We need to trust in God by increasing our faith in Him. We need to love and allow love to characterize our lives.
Repentance, Faith, and Love would give your heart the most befitting and ideal decoration for the season. Have a joyful Christmas celebration and do not forget Christ in your Christmas.