What Kind of Tree Is It?

10 Listen to the word that the Lord has spoken to you, people of Israel!
The Lord proclaims: Don’t follow the ways of the nations or be troubled by signs in the sky, even though the nations are troubled by them.
The rituals of the nations are hollow a tree from the forest is chopped down and shaped by the craftsman’s tools.
It’s overlaid with silver and gold and fastened securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over.
They are no different than a scarecrow in a cucumber patch: they can’t speak; they must be carried because they can’t walk. Don’t be afraid of them, because they can’t do harm or good.
Lord, no one is like you! You are great, and great is your mighty name.
Who wouldn’t fear you, king of the nations? That is your due; among all the wise of the nations and in all their countries, there is no one like you!
But they are both foolish and silly; they offer nothing because they are mere wood.
Covered with silver from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz, they are the work of a craftsman and the hands of a goldsmith. Clothed in blue and purple, all of them nothing more than the work of artisans.
10 But the Lord is the true God! He’s the living God and the everlasting king! When he’s angry, the earth quakes; the nations can’t endure his rage.

11 Tell them this: The gods who didn’t make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens (Jeremiah 10:1-11, Common English Bible).

Take a look at the two pictures above. Go ahead, look at them closely. I will wait.

Can you tell the difference? You can’t? Go back and take another look. There is a very basic difference between those two trees.

The one on the left is a traditional Christmas tree. The one on the right is a Chrismon tree.

On a Christmas tree you can find all kinds of ornaments. On our first Christmas tree together Cindy and I had a number of wooden, hand-painted ornaments. There were things like a church chapel and a skier. Of course there was Santa Claus and others. On a Christmas tree you can find glass balls, candy canes, icicles and so much more.

A Chrismon tree has ornaments as well, but they are all different. Chrismon comes from the bringing together of two words Christ and monogram, Christ’s monogram or Christ’s signature. All the ornaments on the tree are things that point us toward Jesus Christ. They are not intended to be just pretty decorations. These trees, fully decorated, point us to Jesus Christ.

During December we will be talking about Chrismons. Each day we will take a look at a different one of these decorations and talk about what it means and how it points us toward Jesus. The particular symbol may or may not have a Scripture tied to it, but we will see it as a sign, which by definition points to something beyond itself. These signs point us to Jesus.

The Scripture from Jeremiah 10 above, at face value it sounds much like Jeremiah is talking about a Christmas tree. Of course he was not. Since Jesus had not yet been born a Christmas tree would have been meaningless.

Jeremiah is actually pointing to idols made from wood. An idol is useless. It can’t hurt you (at least not in this life), but it also can’t help you. A tree, whether a Christmas tree or a chrismon tree probably won’t hurt but also won’t help. What it can do, however, through its evergreen, remind us of everlasting life and through certain ornaments, help us to remember Jesus and the important role he should play in our celebrations.

It was my first Christmas in a particular church. A lady came up to me after a Sunday evening service. She said, “Brother Keith, can you show me in the Bible where it is OK to have that Christmas tree in the church?”

In response I said, “No, I can’t. But, what you are seeing is not a Christmas tree. It is a Chrismon tree. Each of the ornaments are symbols of Jesus and His life. The tree is intended to remind us of the life of Jesus.”

She simply replied, “Oh, I didn’t know that,” and walked away.

I guess once she knew what the tree was, having a Scripture reference wasn’t so important.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights reserved.

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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