While Emily and I prefer our hypoallergenic plastic tree each year, I know several people who go out Thanksgiving weekend to cut down their very own Christmas trees. One of the most popular types of Christmas tree on the market is the Scots pine. The Scots pine is generally looked at as a simple evergreen to keep in the living room for a couple months before it is hauled off to compost. However, there is much more to consider with this tree.
During the very early years of the 19th century, in the heart of the Black Forest region of Germany, Leopold Lairitz found something of particular worth in the Scots pine. The Black Forest was full of these hearty trees and Lairitz was determined to make special use out of them. He separated the elements of this specific pine tree and created what is known as wood wool. He processed the wool further and turned into what we now know as vegetable flannel. When you take a long look at your Christmas tree, just imagine putting on a shirt or a blanket made from that tree.
It is perplexing for me to think of a moment in history where I would look to a tree and think I could turn it into something wholly other. A set of wood-paneled armor is one thing, but to actually make soft warm clothing out of a tree is quite an achievement. There are situations in our lives, financial circumstances, sicknesses, relationship issues, sometimes it seems as though during the holidays stress just seems to multiply. Stresses like this may cause us to stop and see only a dark forest full of uncomfortable trees. That is where we are wrong. What about vegetable flannel?
Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The first statement reminds us that we have been made anew in the image of Christ. The second part tells us what we are capable of doing based on the transformation. Talking about how He formed us the Lord says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) The great Creator took us out of that dark forest and turned us into something of great purpose. He made us into a thing of peace when we could only see ourselves as useless wood destined for fire.
The Christmas tree is a reminder that we once were useless. Stress and crisis were symptoms of our chaotic state, but our God has redeemed us. Our Father has transformed us by the gift of Jesus to be made into His glory. When chaos finds us we must remember the assurance that we have already been made new. Our Father will never let the hope of our salvation slip away. Just as vegetable flannel cannot be turned back into a tree, the dark forest can never consume us again. The Lord reminds us, “No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13)
Let us give thanks that Christ is made perfect in our weaknesses, that He has already done a marvelous work in us, and that His unfailing love continues to give purpose even in the most preposterous ways!
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com