A few Christmases ago our family made a big mistake. The big mistake they made was letting me get the Christmas tree. I jumped at the chance to get the perfect tree and avoid any family arguments and grumbles, you know, “It’s too short,” or “It’s too tall,” or “It’s plump around the middle.”

I did my best, or what I thought was my best, to get a great tree. The one I got looked good at the store. When it got home, it looked like a girl in bad need of some make-up. Sheri shrieked at its sight, but recovered and eventually found the humor in it, sending a picture of the ugly tree to everyone on social media. In effect, I, not the ugly tree, took the brunt of her humor.

She was right though, it was an ugly tree. We invited no one into our home that Christmas, and we pulled the blinds as soon as the sun went down to minimize the damage of my bad selection.

The next year, Sheri was going to make sure that our tree didn’t resemble Dennis Rodman. So, she and Natalie did the tree picking, and on the “pretty scale,” I gave it a nine or ten. However, on the size scale it was a zero. I called it the Zacchaeus tree. I swear to you, it was about five feet tall. How do you think it looked in a room with eight foot ceilings? It looked like Justin Bieber standing next to Lebron James.
Our friends called it the Christmas shrub.  “It won’t take long to put the ornaments on it,” I teased. “There’s only room for one.” “Let’s stick a two-foot angel on top, and a one-foot stand, and it will reach the ceiling,” the sarcastic minister said.

I got to thinking about Christmas tree ornaments.  The ornaments aren’t the main thing you know.  The tree (even our five-foot one) is the main thing; it is the noun.  The ornaments are like adjectives that help describe the tree. We hang the adjectives on the noun.  Our family has some ornaments that have sentimental value, others are pretty, and some not so pretty.   Some are just plain cheesy. But, as beautiful as some ornaments are, we should be reminded that they are only adjectives.

I don’t like the way that the word Christian is used in our culture.  It seems that it is sometimes used more as an adjective than a noun, as in Christian music or Christian business person.  Being a Christian should be the main thing, not an adjective that is hung on a noun.
All of which brings us to the main thing at Christmas, which is Christ.  One of our church’s children, said to his dad on the way to school: “Dad, I know the most important thing about Christmas is Jesus, but….I sure do like getting gifts.”  Me too.  But that kid knows not to forget the main thing. With all the other stuff that we add to the season, much of which is good and fun, let’s never lose sight of Jesus Christ’s place of honor in our hearts and homes.

So, have a season full of nouns—words like love, joy, peace, hope, and tree.  Gift wrap them. OK, add some adjectives if you would like, such as “Merry” Christmas and “White” Christmas.

That year, we told our neighbors to drop by and see our Zacchaeus tree. We said, “Bring your binoculars.”

Pastor Steve

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