In the scriptures, there’s a particular tree of special significance. It stands as a symbol…and you’d miss the symbolism just by thinking you already knew what it meant. This tree is described this way:
“the beauty…was…exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness…did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow“.
And the fruit was:
- “desirable to make one happy“,
- “it was most sweet“,
- “was white, to exceed all the whiteness“, and
- “filled [one’s] soul with exceedingly great joy.”
That fruit was so desirable that the person who experienced its fruit wanted to share it with his whole family.
This tree is the Tree of Life, as told by an ancient prophet of the scriptures. That tree is artistically captured as a white fruit-bearing tree, with white fruit, usually, something like this:
However, this Christmas, I found that the same tree can be represented somewhat differently:
We don’t usually think of the Tree of Life as a Christmas tree.
It occurred to me that however it is depicted, it is the meaning of the symbols that strikes me even more. Think on this for a moment:
What does the tree represent?
In 1 Nephi 11, verses 7-23, an angel describes the meaning of the Tree of Life and the fruit of the tree. In short, the Tree is the Love of God (v. 21-22: “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree…? …It is the love of God…”). In John 3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son…” Because God loves the people of this world, He gave them (us) Jesus Christ to demonstrate and show his Love. Jesus Christ represents the Love of God. Jesus IS the Love of God. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Tree.
I like to view the “traditional” Christmas tree—unchanging in its demeanor, its branches always reaching out, and always pointing heavenward—as symbolic of Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, today, and forever; always focused on others; and always pointing us back to God.
What does the fruit represent?
Verses 27-33 describe the things that Jesus Christ did while he was on the earth:
- being baptized to show his obedience to God
- ministering to people and teaching them whenever he could
- healing those who were sick with all kinds of diseases, casting out devils and unclean spirits
- allowing himself to be judged unjustly by the world
- allowing himself to be slain for the sins of the world
The “fruits of the tree” are everything that Jesus Christ did and still does for us. From teaching, healing, giving a helping hand, and casting out evil, all the way to offering us the blessings of the Atonement which are forgiveness, mercy, compassion, repentance, restoration, peace, and love, and much more. Each gift (fruit) that Christ gives to us is designed to bring joy to our soul.
I see the white “ornaments” of the Christmas tree like the white fruit of the Tree of Life. These ornaments are what we place upon the tree, and to me…that’s significant.
In the Tree of Life, you pick the fruit hanging from the tree…and you eat it (internalize it)…and then you share it. In other words, you take the gifts that Christ offers you, and you internalize them into yourself…and then you reach out to others and share those very gifts to them. For each gift that we are given, we are asked to share with others:
- If we have been served, then let us give the gift of serving.
- If we have been forgiven, then let us give the gift of forgiving.
- If we have been shown mercy, then let us show mercy.
- If, in our brokenness, we were healed and restored, then let us do the same for others.
- If we have been loved, then let us love.
If Christ is the Tree, and His Gifts of Love are the White Ornaments, then imagine that we take those gifts that we’ve been given throughout the year, and we place them upon the Christ Tree as our way of remembering what He’s given us. The more of Christ’s gifts we remember, the more we place upon the tree…until we’ve covered the Christ Tree with the “ornaments” of His gifts in our lives. It then becomes our way of thanking God for his tenderness, his mercy, and for His Hand in our lives. It is our way of recognizing an Alive and Active Christ in our lives…and being grateful to Him.
Imagine decorating this Christ Tree with the ornaments of the Gifts He has given you this past year:
This tree represents an Evergreen Tree. That means that it stays green all year long. Just as we have taken time to remember the Gifts that Christ has given us this past year, let us ever-remember to give those gifts all throughout the following year…and all throughout our lives. Let us strive to be ever-giving, ever forgiving, ever-patient, ever-serving, ever-reaching out, ever watchful, ever faithful, ever prayerful, ever humble, ever-loving, ever like Christ.
The Christ-More tree
In Tagalog, “Mas” means “More”. Hence, our Christ-Mas tree is our Christ-More tree.
Let us make Christ the Centerpiece of our Christmas,
the Centerpiece of our Home,
and the Centerpiece of our lives.
Let us remember the words of the Hymn, More Holiness Give Me….
and strive to be “More, Savior, like Thee.”