Monday, December 03, 2012

My Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

A year or two ago I bought a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree for $5 as an after-Christmas clearance bargain. I thought about giving it away as a gag gift, but then I decided I could use it for something else. Every year a handful of dedicated ladies in our church (plus a couple of men to be wreath-lifters and tree-constructors) do an excellent job of decorating our sanctuary for Christmas. I added my "tree" to the decorations! 

Sure, it looks a little out of place, but it's supposed to. I told the church yesterday that I was keeping it out to remind us that one gift we can give to Christ (year round) is to take care of the poor.

It's amazing how often throughout scriptures, our Father tells us to take care of the poor. Jesus reminds us in Luke 14:12-14: Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

So remember the poor during Christmas (and through the year); it's a gift that our Savior will really like! Remember what that brilliant philosopher Linus Van Pelt said about this little tree in the original Charlie Brown's Christmas special: I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love. The gang then takes decorations from Snoopy's doghouse and transfers it to the tree for an amazing transformation. All it really needed was love, just like you and me, and just like the poor.

The Bible gives us VERY little wiggle room with regards to our obligation to love those in need. One of my all time favorite passages that sums it up is 1 John 3:16-18: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Once again I owe a lot to one of my seminary professors, Dr. Rick Yount, who told our class over thirty years ago, "love is acting in the best interest of another PERIOD!" I've never forgotten that, and I never will. I hope you won't either! So if you want to give Jesus a Christmas present He'll really "love," then love others, especially those in need! 

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