As Mary has noted in the these virtual pages, the Christmas Tree is one of, if not the most recognizable symbols of Christmas. They are everywhere, indoors and out, and you'll probably enjoy as much as I have a new little meditation on their beauty and purpose.
I picked up a library copy the other day of: The Blessing of Christmas by the prolific author Joseph Ratzinger ( Pope Benedict XVI) and published by Ignatius Press. The first part deals with the challenges of illness but includes a very special section on the Christmas tree from which we all might gain a new insight or two.
The pope reminds us that almost all of our Advent customs are rooted in Scripture. "Here, the faithful people have, as it were, translated Scripture into visible signs" (I just love that thought). Of all the customs of Advent and Christmas I would have thought The Tree would have the least connection to Scriptual roots, but thankfully I was wrong.
"For example, we read in Psalm 96: 'Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes.' " Expanding on this and other verses, the liturgy proclaims: " 'The mountains and hills will sing praise before God, and all the trees of the wood will clap their hands, for the Lord, the ruler is coming to rule for ever.' "
Then as I read the next paragraph, those goosebumps pour over me as they so often do when I perceive a new level of the sacramental nature of the world:
"The Christmas trees we decorate are simply an attempt to make these words visible. The Lord is here--our ancestors believed this and knew this, and so the trees had to go out to meet him, they had to bow down before him, the trees themselves had to become a song of praise to their Lord. The same certainty of faith led them to make the words about the singing mountains and hills a reality. They gave a voice to the mountains, and their singing resounds down through the centuries into our own days, letting us sense something of the nearness of the Lord--for it is only he who could give men such melodies."
So as you decorate your tree or look upon the finished product tonight, contemplate the nearness of the Lord, who through time, our ancestors in faith, this liturgical season called Advent and the simple tree, comes in a myriad of sacramental ways to call all people (even those who don't know the meaning of this season or of their tree) "to bow down before Him."
Here is a Christmas tree blessing for the home for you to use, even if you have already decorated your tree.