Luke 3:6 – And all mankind will see God's salvation. (NIV)
I would have been around eight years old as one particular Christmas was approaching. We lived in the Parkdale area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Our old rented house on Roncesvalles Avenue was a quaint house, as I remember it, with large rooms and at least nine-foot ceilings.
It was near the end of World War II, and my three brothers were all in the armed forces. This left only me at home with my mom and dad.
We usually had snow, and plenty of it. My dad and I would go hand in hand out shopping for the Christmas tree! Ploughing up the street through the snow we would go, looking for that real neat tree, just the right one for our house.
"There it is, dad," I would say; then dad would say, "It's too big."
"No, it isn't; it's just right."
Spoiled as I was, he would give in, and together, we would drag the tree home. And yes, he was right; it was always too tall, and dad would have to trim the top off. What was left held the star that would shine out its light.
After the tree was totally decorated, on would go the lights. "Oh dad! it's beautiful!" After my mother had finished with it, straightening out every piece of tinsel, in my eyes, it was a beauty to behold.
The downside to this reflection is that I had no idea of why we placed that star on the top.
These days, I wonder just how many children, and adults for that matter, know why they place a star or an angel on the top of their Christmas tree. Many have no idea what it is that Christmas has to bring, other than the gifts we give to each other.
Matthew 2:9-10 – After [the wise men] had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. (NIV)
As the years passed for me, it was a long struggle, until at last, I met Jesus at the manger. It was then that I understood why the star shines on the tree. It's to point the way for us to meet Christ at the manger and receive His gift of life: the gift above all other gifts — our salvation stored up in the heavens just for us. And it is open for all to receive. So let's not let this Christmas go by without reflecting on that manger scene and the gift God has offered to us.
Prayer: Almighty God, we pray that this year, many will follow the star to Bethlehem and come to know Jesus, not only in that manger, but also alive by His Spirit in the world today, and waiting for each one to open Your gift. Amen.