A Christmas Perspective

And so it was Christmas, and the time-honored tradition was feted as usual in our home with decorations, gifts, presents, tree(s) and lights, food, music and the controlled pandemonium (of the grandchildren - in our case). All of which served a specific purpose: to help and promote good enjoyable time and fun with family. But sometimes family fun can get in the way of the true, profound, spiritual meaning and essence of Christmas. So if we - as individuals and/or as a family - take time within the fun and excitement to absorb and understand this meaning and essence, at least symbolically, we will feel even more grateful for the Savior’s role in our lives.

The symbolic meaning and essence can be found in the two of the most genuine and authentic symbols of Christmas - the tree and lights. The gospel, after all, is replete with symbols through which we learn, remember and honor our relationship with God. Christ also taught important gospel principles and doctrine using parabolic symbols.

The tree is an important symbol in the scriptures. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life have become primal and principal symbols and archetypes in Christianity. The latter of the two trees was off-limits to Adam - and his posterity - after he partook of the former. And when God placed Cherubim and the flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life, it took on an appearance of a lighted tree - like a Christmas tree. The Tree of Life was thereafter designated as a goal and final reward for those who will repent and endure to the end in keeping the commandments - in other words, those who will overcome [the natural man].

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelations 2:7  Emphasis added)

A typical tree is also the standard symbol for the family, hence the term “family tree”. And since Christmas time is principally family time, the Christmas tree enhances the focus on the family theme, especially for LDS families who, through Church teachings, are taught the importance, value and unity of families to extend beyond death, even forever. The expression “Families are Forever” and temple/genealogical work (re: family trees) are uniquely LDS.

Moreover, in The Book of Mormon, the central symbol in Lehi’s dream/vision is the “tree of life” representing “the love of God” and whose fruits are most desirable and would make one happy. Lehi’s first and immediate wish after partaking of the fruit - and found to be “desirable above all other fruit” - was for his family to also press forward and partake.

In this sense, the Christmas tree can be a symbol for the love of family and love of God.

The lights are equally if not more pertinent. Light is a pervasive symbol of Christ/God.

“...I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“... God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
“The Lord is my light and my salvation ....” (Psalms 27:1).

Furthermore, when God (Jehovah/Christ) appeared to Moses, the burning bush was the representation of His presence. So a well lit Christmas tree (like a burning bush) strategically placed in the house can be viewed as a symbol and reminder of God’s presence in the home during the Christmas season.

Lastly, the word “tree”  itself in the context of the crucifixion (hence "the cross"), is a reminder of Christ’s infinite Atonement and Sacrifice.

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24  Emphasis added).

And so a Christmas tree with its lights symbolically remind us of an important means, and an end. We are only able to reach - and partake - of the Tree of Life (end) if/when we walk in the Light of Christ (means).

Manuia le Kerisimasi ma le Tausaga Fou!

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