Rector's Ramblings December 6, 2017
I swear it didn’t look that big when it was outside standing next to the others. We said we wanted a nine-foot tree, and he showed us the “nine to ten” foot trees. We didn’t like the price, so we decided to look for something smaller. We found a tree that looked good. It was tall, and it was full. So we chose that one. My first clue should have been when the three men went to load it onto our car and they groaned under the weight. “You got a neighbor who can help you with that?”, he asked. “I’ve got her,” was my response, indicating Donna. How bad could it be, I thought?
Well, we got it off the car. Dropped it off the car, rolling it over me in the process, is the more precise description. Then we managed to get it up the front steps. We couldn’t really carry it, so we dragged it behind us, using both hands and all of our leg muscles in the process. We stood it up in the stand, but Donna couldn’t hold it up long enough for me to tighten the screws, so I held it and she tightened the screws. It had three and a half inches of clearance to the ceiling. But the width! Nearly seven feet across. We set a new family record – biggest Christmas tree ever, er, biggest Advent bush ever. Sorry, my mistake; it won’t be a Christmas tree for a few more weeks.
In the end, it’s in, it’s up, and it’s decorated. I shaved a foot or so off the back side to give us a little more room to walk in the living room. I also wired it to the mounting hood of a picture it completely blocked out, and also to a screw driven into the underside of the mantle. It’s so big and heavy I don’t trust the tree stand alone. It sure is pretty, though. It has got to be one of my favorite Chris-Advent bushes ever. The only thing that might keep it off the top spot is because we didn’t cut it down ourselves.
When we lived up north, we would go to “cut your own” tree farms. The trick was to be really nice to the tree farmer so he would give you a sharp saw. If you are rude, you might be stuck with a dull saw, which means you’re lying on the ground for a long time, cutting until your arms go numb. That only happens one time, and then you learn to ask nicely! I think my favorite tree still has to be the Concolor fir we got in Maryland several years in a row. They looked beautiful with their long needles, and the scent was a citrus scent. But Bertha the Advent bush we found this year (yes, a tree this big needs a name) is probably number two.
Either way, this is a tree we will remember. Assuming I can get it out of the house after Christmas. We might not have to remember it, because it might stay with us for a long time. I’m not ready to move it anytime soon. But, I will remember this tree as the tree that was almost too big. It fooled us. That weird magic that happens at the tree farm or tree lot got us again. It was an ordeal, but a good ordeal. Even if it took five more strands of lights than we’ve ever used before. Good thing they’re LEDs. Otherwise the neighborhood lights might dim every time we turn the tree on.
I pray that your holiday is full of large blessings and few ordeals. I realize there are a lot of things that come about at this time of year that looked smaller when you first considered them. Perhaps it is the handmade presents. Maybe it was the bright idea to dress the family up for a Christmas photo, only to find that one of the kids insists on melting down instead of saying, “cheese!” Or perhaps you invited some folks to come for a visit and didn’t realize they’d actually accept. There are lots of times things look smaller until we get into them. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the enormity of situation down the road.
That’s part of this season’s message, too. Jesus came into the world as a terribly small and fragile creature. No one expected the Son of Man to come the way he did, born to poor parents, nobodies of their day, but he did. The angels told the good news to shepherds, the least popular people around, and still the world didn’t realize what a huge night Christmas night was. It would take quite some time, but we’d eventually figure it out. In time we realized that all the lights were dim compared to the light of the world. We realized just how enormous God’s love was. It seemed so small at the start though.
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.