It’s like the Grinch who stole Christmas
It’s like the Grinch who stole Christmas. That was the observation of Sheriff Kent Harris in explaining the actions of a thief who struck Danny Tipton’s Christmas tree farm in eastern Tennessee a few days ago. Tipton specializes in taller Fraser firs preferred by businesses and churches and homes with higher ceilings, Christmas trees usually ten to twelve feet tall. Tipton sells his firs for $100 each. But a thief or band of thieves raided the Tipton farm sometime between Thanksgiving and last week and lopped off the top six feet of two dozen of his prize Fraser firs, leaving behind rows of “beheaded” evergreens. No doubt the new “six footers” were hauled away to be sold to customers shopping for a shorter Christmas tree. Remarked deputy sheriff Ronnie Adkins, “It’s a very low person who commits a crime like this at Christmastime.” (SBT 12-05-07) So much for “peace on earth, good will to all.” But then again hasn’t that “Christmastime crime” been on the police books for decades, even centuries now? Not the misdemeanor of pilfered firs. But the lopping off the top of the towering tree planted on that Bethlehem midnight long ago. Somebody in that dark and starry night resolved to hack off the top of God’s planted tree, so that whenever the birth of the Christ Child would be celebrated, it would be forgotten or neglected, the tree Christmas really is all about. Oh it’s true—over the two millennia since there have been ornamental trees aplenty—decked with blinking lights and spinning baubles and twisting ribbon. But who remembers any more that old rugged tree that was first planted at Bethlehem but that grew up to Calvary? In the midst of Santa Clauses and reindeer and stockings and presents, how many of earth’s children remember the cross at Christmas any more? “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many . . . and a sword will pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:24, 25). The Christ Child is not only about the birthing of Heaven’s Baby; he is also the truth about the piercing of God’s heart. Born so that he might die—a manger for the sake of a cross. When the twin realities of God’s sacrificial Gift are separated, their union is sundered. And we forget. In the midst of all the gaiety and tinsel, we forget. This year, this time, shall we not guard against that “Christmastime crime” and protect the top of Calvary’s tree from being lopped off and stolen away . . . by remembering Christ’s death that remains Love’s most resplendent reason for his birth long, long ago?