It's the most wonderful time of the year. Something from my early childhood kicks in the moment the last dish is cleared from the Thanksgiving feast. It's time for Christmas to unfold in all its beauty and splendor. From early in my life, the celebration of the birth of Jesus has been ushered in with a solemn, yet glorious joy, lived out in tradition after beautiful tradition. Many of these traditions have been carried into my home. A focal point for the remembrance is the Christmas tree. Even as a young child I was mesmerized by the beauty--the kingly silence of the Christmas tree as it rose to the ceiling. Somehow it commanded an awe that called me to be in its presence.
This year our tradition hosts a new Christmas tree. Standing twelve feet in the air, the crown on top touches the ceiling of my old Victorian home. As I spent four hours of time handling every branch of the tree, a metaphor grew in my spirit. The tree came in pieces, stuffed into an enormous box. As each section of the tree was pulled from the box and set in its position it formed a tree. But it didn't look anything like the picture of the tree on the outside of the box. Several details needed to be addressed before the final result would be achieved. First the pieces had to be in the right order. Then each branch had to be unfolded and remolded. Branches that had been pressed into the box for so long had to be released and freed to extend to their full length and form. This detail took time and patience. Each branch makes a contribution to the overall beauty of tree, so each had to be handled. Then finally, after each piece was set in its proper position, the plugs were connected to the source of energy and the tree came to life, full of vibrant glory and beauty. The final product, filled with rich ornaments and ribbons radiated brilliance. Its presence in the room drew a gasp of joy--a captivating vision.
Isn't my life a lot like the tree? I am reminded of "boxes" I've been stuffed into. Boxes of sin, or tradition. Maybe the box has been others' expectations, or even religious requirements. All of those boxes have kept me pressed and squashed into a mold that didn't look anything like I was created to look. As the box is opened and my life is put together in order as it was ordained to be, I still need Someone with a great deal of time and patience to devote to me. Handling every detail of my life, He forms me into who I was designed to be. Each piece of me has to be released and freed to extend to its full length and form. Nothing is left to chance or overlooked, because the designer wants to use all of me to declare His glory. Even when I am standing straight and tall, molded exactly as I was designed to be, I still need to be plugged into the source of His light. As His presence courses through my being, I am being brought to life, full and vibrant, reflecting the glory of my Creator.
In Ephesians 3, Paul prays that "our roots would go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love, and we would be filled to the measure of the fullness of God." He goes on to pray that we will be invaded by "the one who does immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." When I allow myself to be "unboxed" and molded into the fullness of my created form, God promises to fill me up full of himself and I will be a reflection of His presence in the world around me, radiant with His grace and light, a display of His glory, calling others to His presence.
Thank you, Lord for providing for us Your presence and Your attentive touch to form us as we were designed to be. Thank you for Jesus, the light of the world, the extravagant gift of love to redeem us and to give us the fullness of Yourself.
Shelley Lopez, Executive Director
Shelley has been a member of the Springfield community for 29 years. As she lives and works and worships in the city, she uses the metaphor of an old Victorian house restoration to keep her focused on the work she is called to do. Inspired by the words of the prophet Isaiah, she pours herself into "restoring old ruins, rebuilding and renovating, making the community livable again" (Is. 58:12 MSG)