Imperfect Christmas Trees

When I was a kid, my family would go to the local Christmas tree farm or Lion’s Club selling trees in a school parking lot and pick one out. We usually set up our tree two weeks before Christmas. So, when we woke up on the Saturday morning of Christmas tree shopping day, it was quite exciting. It meant there were only fourteen more agonizing days to wait until Christmas.

Inevitably, my dad, being a thrifty Yankee, would pick out what we thought was the scrawniest tree imaginable. We were in despair. What would our friends think? Charlie Brown’s tree would put ours to shame.

He always got an armload of boughs and branches with the tree. We wondered why. We would put the tree in its stand and then dad would work his magic. Wherever there was a gap or a thin part in the tree, dad would drill a hole, whittle down the end of a branch to just the right size, and slip it in. When he was done, the tree was full and lush. With the lights and decorations on it, it was the best looking tree in the neighborhood.

I like to think of Christmas like that. We are like those trees with thin spots, gaps, and missing parts. We each have our own pet sins, peccadilloes, weaknesses, addictions, bad habits, regrets, wounds and hurts we have received or inflicted upon others. We are not the people we should be or God intends us to be. We settle our insecurities and fears by waging wars, we care more about having our needs met than sharing for the common good, we glorify the starlet and the politician rather than the cleaning lady or the plumber, and we divorce one another instead of working hard at our relationships. You could add your own issues to this list.

If we didn’t need saving, God wouldn’t have sent a Savior. But, thank heavens, God has come to us in Christ. Theologians have always made a distinction between general and special revelation. In the former, God is revealed through nature. By it, we can see that the Creator loves beauty, order, design, and diversity. This One is intelligent, powerful, creative, and awe-inspiring. But we would not know if this Supreme Being was merciful or just, loving or indifferent toward us, had plan or designs for us or just created the cosmos and cut it loose.

This is why God had to explain the Divine nature to us. If you wanted to know more about me, you could guess, but you might not be right. I would have to disclose myself to you. This is what God in Christ has done for us. We call this reality the “Incarnation.” God is enfleshed with our flesh. God takes on our problems. God shares our hopes, dreams, and joys. But most especially, God will, in God’s time, bring them to pass.

About Norman Bendroth

Norman Bendroth is a Professional Transition Specialist certified by the Interim Ministry Network. He has served as a settled pastor in two United Church of Christ congregations and as a Sr. Interim pastor in seven other UCC congregations. He was also an executive for three different non-profit agencies. He has had additional training in Mediation Skills for Church Leaders from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and training in Appreciative Inquiry from the Clergy Leadership Institute. Rev. Bendroth has the M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his D. Min. from Andover Newton Theological school where he concentrated on theology and systems theory. He is married to Peggy Bendroth and has two adopted Amerasian children.
This entry was posted in Blogs. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *