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A Christmas oak?

Up here in the Inland Northwest, we know something about what a Christmas tree is supposed to look like. In fact, as of 2011, Washington, the evergreen state, is in a second-place tie with Wisconsin for supplying the most Christmas trees to the White House. (North Carolina is first, in case you’re curious.) Noble firs have been our most frequent contribution. That’s what made the cross-country trip in 2004, the last time a Washington tree graced the White House, as well as five of the previous six times.

OaksofRighteousness

Well, I have a radical suggestion, one I doubt will hold much sway with the National Christmas Tree Association, but I’m hoping you’ll give it some thought. How about a Christmas oak? Talk about noble. Talk about strong and mighty. Talk about . . . bare.

OK, I don’t seriously think anyone’s going to chop one down, drag it through the woods and display it covered with decorations in their living room, but if you have one in your yard, think about stringing it with little white lights as you meditate on this passage: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor,” Isaiah 61:3.phil-heart-to-heart

The prophet is talking about the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, those who mourn and suffer in despair. He’s talking about us, and he’s foretelling the transformation that will take place in our lives through Jesus Christ. We will become like trees planted by streams of living water whose leaves do not wither. We will be a magnificent display of God’s beauty and redeeming power. We will reflect his character and bring glory to him as God-dependent, contributing members of society.

This newsletter is based on those first three verses of Isaiah 61, a portion of which Christ himself quotes in Luke 4 and proclaims: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

I have the privilege of watching these verses continue to be fulfilled every day. Good news is proclaimed to the poor. The captives are set free. Those who mourn are comforted. Beauty does rise up from ashes. Praise replaces cursing and despair. And the one Christmas is all about – Jesus Christ – is glorified as men, women and children grow into magnificent Christmas oaks of righteousness.

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