For the past several years, there is a holiday trend that has quite literally turnedg a traditional Christmas celebration upside down. Hammacher Schlemmer, a retail company based in New York, has been offering a unique yuletide decoration: the Upside-Down Christmas Tree.
Standing at 7-feet tall and pre-lit with over 800 commercial-grade lights, this technological marvel can be yours for the low price of $599.95. But why would anyone want an upside-down Christmas tree? According to Hammacher Schlemmer’s website: “The inverted shape makes it easier to see ornaments, which hang away from the dense needles,” while “allowing more room for the accumulation of presents underneath.”
Other retail outlets are following suit, including several online websites, offering 5-to-7.5-foot bizarre trees from $280-$504. Even Target has gotten in on the action, with upside-down trees ranging from $299 to $499 on its website. The retail giant claims that the trees “leave more room on the floor for gifts.”
When you think about it, that is the trend these days – to turn the celebration of the Christmas holiday upside-down.
For years, when we used to send out Christmas greeting cards, we would send cards that boldly proclaimed “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” as well as the message “Merry Christmas.” But all of a sudden, this year, for those in the Christian community anyway, such a greeting is considered to be a cultural faux pas.
For the first time in a long time, the whole thought of saying anything different from “Merry Christmas” in a verbal or written greeting is almost a brand as bold as a tattoo that might as well say, “He’s not a Christian!” Now this is simply the follow-through for many of the efforts to diminish the impact of the Christmas message each and every year.
But the reality of the Christmas holiday is one that we should all take to heart: The true meaning of Christmas is that it SHOULD turn our worlds upside down!
That first Christmas night, the angelic choir appeared to those humble and ever-so-ordinary shepherds out in the fields and on the job, and said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Check out Luke 2:10-11). Out of an ordinary star-filled sky came the signal from heaven that indeed a Savior had been born.
An overcrowded wayside inn provided the backdrop for the birth of Jesus. And as ordinary as it seemed, this was no ordinary birth. And it would not be an ordinary world from this point on. The Savior would literally turn the world upside down!
That’s the way it is with God! He takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary! But He did not do this in isolation. He did not just drop this package of love on the doorstep of humanity like some stork dropping a baby out of the sky. He prepared the whole of humanity for it through several means:
First there is the backdrop of prophecy. Over and over again, the prophetic Scriptures point to the coming of the Savior. Check out Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 11:1 or even 53:1-6.
Whether you are reading in Isaiah or Micah or Zephaniah or Zechariah, you will discover many verses which point to the fact of Jesus’ birth! Each of these prophetic utterances point to the preparation for the coming of the Lord! And they are proof positive that this birth, though ordinary, was not meant to go unnoticed by the world!
Second, the events of history also provided the necessary scenario for this birth to occur. I mean, how else would a couple who are living and working in Nazareth in the north of Israel get to the tiny burb of Bethlehem in the southern region of the country. Caesar Augustus himself provided the historical context for this astounding birth! He called for an empire-wide census, requiring each family to return to their community of origin.
The third ingredient so necessary for the preparation of the world for the Savior’s birth is the aura of mystery that surrounds the whole birth story. If you were God, would you want every individual on the face of the earth to be able to explain and understand completely the birth of their Savior?
Or would you not want them to be placed in the position of trusting you that you know what you are doing, even though they do not have all the details? I for one am convinced that the unanswered questions surrounding the birth of Christ are indeed the very things that point to His birth actually occurring the way it is reported in the biblical accounts!
The other evening, I watched with some degree of interest a television program that was attempting to deal with the Mystery of Christmas. The people interviewed were not people who put much trust in the God of the Bible. They were trying to de-mythologize the Christmas message.
Their faith-less presentation was filled with the declarations that the biblical writers had a very mundane agenda, which was not to tell the truth, but rather to deceive!
My friends, the “turning Christmas upside down” movement that we see today is trying to do just that – to take away the impact of the birth of the Savior of the world.
I am not into movements. I am not advocating rebellion against certain things. My only concern is that we realize that Christ came in order to turn the world upside down. It’s not about you or me. It’s all about Him!
And He has commissioned all those who follow Him to do just that – turn the world upside down with the message of Christ’s love for you!
Happy New Year!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.