Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Trees, Adam, Eve and Jesus

Why decorate Christmas trees? Frankly, it’s fun. That’s reason enough for most of us. But the tradition likely came from an ancient Christian celebration we that we no longer observe (well, some Eastern Orthodox Christians still do). 

On Christmas Eve throughout the medieval era it was the common practice to decorate an evergreen tree with bright red apples. This was the celebration of Adam and Eve Day. Christians would commemorate both the amazing gift of creation and life represented by our primal parents. And they would remember the fall of Adam and Eve into sin which locked humanity and the world under a curse.

The curse (Gen 6:14-19) cast our existence into disharmony and disconnection with humanity being cast from paradise and deep union with our creator, children associated with pain, women ruled by men, an unrelenting struggle between humanity and nature and even death itself.

The original “Christmas Tree” was not for “Christmas” but to remind believers of the Garden of Eden (the evergreen tree) and the temptation to sin (the apple). To celebrate the birth of Jesus on the following day, however, was the perfect way to experience and relive the most amazing truth of “Emmanuel – God with Us.” That truth is that Jesus was born, the “Second Adam” (one of John Wesley’s favorite terms for Jesus) to reconcile breached relationships between humanity and the Divine, between men and women, between different people groups and even between humanity and the world God created. 

Jesus came to reverse the curse. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1Cor.15.22). The cursed believe “might makes right,” some men are more “equal” than others, the planet and its inhabitants are resources to exploit, and death is inevitable. 

The liberated in Christ know eternal life carries with it a joy that outweighs our light and momentary suffering. Sometimes, this suffering flows as the liberated struggle to set a crooked world straight, to set captives free, to advocate for equality for all, and seek to care well for the gift of a planet untrusted to us. As you decorate your trees, remember Adam and Eve . . . and celebrate the Second Adam who set us free.

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