Christmas Trees

12-10-2023Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our family has had the tradition of putting up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. For many years we had an artificial tree. Some years we would go and cut down our tree from some place up north that allowed us to do that for a small fee. This year we went to a Christmas tree lot like many people do. That whole process of getting a tree and decorating it got me thinking. Why do we have a tree and why do we bring the tree into our house?

What is the impetus for this holiday tradition anyway? For thousands of years, the evergreen tree has been a sign of hope and life. For ancient people, it was a reminder in the winter that sunlight and good weather would come again. For Christians, it's a reminder that Jesus came to bring us the hope of eternal life.

While sixteenth century Germans are said to be the first people to bring Christmas trees into their homes, St. Boniface, an eighth century Catholic missionary to the Germans, is credited with creating the first Christmas tree. This happened one Christmas Eve when he chopped down a large oak tree that the Germans used for pagan worship. He pointed to a nearby evergreen tree, saying that it represented peace and eternal life. He told the crowd of Germans to gather around evergreen trees in their homes in a spirit of kindness and love, to commemorate the child Jesus.

In the early 1800s, German settlers brought the Christmas tree tradition to Pennsylvania. The rest of America adopted the tradition in 1846, and slowly but surely the Christmas tree gained popularity. Now, Christmas trees are seen in homes and on display all over the world. Their beauty and light remind us of the hope we have in Jesus.

To remind ourselves of this religious significance of the Christmas tree, we should dedicate our trees to the proper theme and not consumerism that is often found under the tree. I found a Christmas tree blessing that you may like to use for your tree.

Lord our God,
we praise you for the light of creation:
the sun, the moon, and the stars of the night.
We praise you for the light of Israel:
the Law, the prophets, and the wisdom of the Scriptures.
We praise you for Jesus Christ, your Son:
he is Emmanuel, God-with-us, the Prince of Peace,
who fills us with the wonder of your love.

Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we illumine this tree.
May the light and cheer it gives
be a sign of the joy that fills our hearts.
May all who delight in this tree
come to the knowledge and joy of salvation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R/. Amen.

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.