Last week I talked about how I felt the first Christmas after Rachel died, and how hard it was to decorate and celebrate. It still is, in fact. This is the sixth Christmas since we lost our daughter, and there is always a measure of sadness leavening my joy during the holidays. Still, the decorations and, especially, the tree remind me of why and what we are celebrating. And, knowing that because Jesus came into this world and died for us, I have hope in my grief (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Why the tree? Well, it’s not even the tree itself, but specifically what’s at the top of the tree. The angel or the star.
Until recently I didn’t realize just how divided the angel versus star camps are. Most people follow a family tradition of one or the other. A few people even insist that one is more Biblically significant than the other, despite that fact that the tradition of decorating a tree at Christmas started sometime around 1570.
Still, both the angel and the star are Biblically symbolic. A star symbolizes the one that guided the Eastern kings (the Wise Men) to the house where Mary, Joseph, and the child Jesus were living. An angel symbolizes both the angel who appeared to Joseph explaining about Mary’s virgin pregnancy and the angel who appeared to the shepherds telling them to go see the “newborn king.”
The star and the angel are both heralds and guides. They both announce a miracle; they both proclaim the birth of the long-awaited King of the Jews, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. They both point us to the path we should take to find Jesus. They remind us of Heaven, of eternity, of renewal.
They remind us of HOPE.
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