Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Youth Page

Written by Mr. Peter Langbroek
That late afternoon before dark, it began to snow as Pete, Dad, Yvonne and Jake drove home from the ice rink. They drove up the round hill, while eight year old Yvonne looked out the window, waiting for Dad to drive past ÒSantaÕs Tree Farm.Ó There it came; the Christmas lights shone form the old barn. Perched on a large tree was a large yellow star and many lights were strung down from its peak.

Dad had to slow down because of the heavy traffic: warmly dressed adults with their children walked along the road, heading for the old barn. In front of the barn were wooden cut-outs of Santa on a sleigh with his seven reindeer, and of course, Rudolph with his red nose in front. Inside the barn were long rows of Christmas trees. In the corner were shelves with Christmas ornaments, and to the side was the refreshment stand. People lined up to get the ÒClaus Special:Ó cheeseburger, fries and spiced apple cider for $4.99.

Dad slowly passed ÒSantaÕs Tree FarmÓ while Yvonne gazed back at the barn. Then she saw the one horse open sleigh. A dad, mom and little girls her age had just cut a tree from the field and were returning to the barn. If the window was open, Yvonne would have heard bells jingling in the quiet cold air. Oh what fun, Yvonne thought. For an extra $10 you could pick your Christmas tree from the long rows, just like the olden days. You could see various stumps of trees already cut, in the rows of snow frosted pine trees.

Yvonne turned to her Dad. With almost a whine, she asked, ÒDad, why canÕt we have a Christmas tree?Ó

Dad was thoughtful for a moment as he looked at the stump of trees on ÒSantaÕs Tree Farm.Ó ÒBecause Christmas is more about a stump than a tree.Ó

ÒWhat!Ó piped up fourteen year old Jake. ÒLetÕs dig up one of those stumps and put it in our living room. Yeah, right!Ó he mocked.

Dad chose not to reply to JakeÕs comment, but was quiet the rest of the way home.

During supper Yvonne was still thinking about the tree farm. It was time to read the Bible. Forks and spoons were put on the plates. Everyone was quiet as Dad flipped the Bible pages. Yvonne turned to Dad. ÒDad, why do you want a stump in the living room?Ó Everyone laughed at their youngest sister.

ÒThatÕs what I said, ÒJake interrupted.

Dad paused a moment. ÒA long time ago there was a great king named David. He was a man who loved God deeply. He was the youngest, like you, a little runt his older brothers forgot about while he took care of sheep in the back field. Then God made him a great king over all Israel. One day, God talked to him through a prophet named Nathan. He promised David that his family would reign forever. The kingdom would have peace and their enemies would no longer fight with them. DavidÕs son Solomon became king. SolomonÕs reign was better than DavidÕs. There was peace and riches. During this time Solomon built a temple for God in Jerusalem. Solomon was like a big, beautiful tree that gave fruit and shade for the Israelites.Ó

ÒBut then the Israelites disobeyed God. They became evil, including the kings who were ancestors of David. So God punished them. He sent a wicked army from Babylon to destroy Jerusalem, including its beautiful temple they had built for God. The last king, Zedekiah--they killed his sons before they took his eyes out and took him to Babylon. They took many Israelites to Babylon as slaves. Later, the Israelites returned and rebuilt Jerusalem, including the temple. But it was never the same. No one from the house of David ever became king again. It was like a stump, a beautiful tree chopped down. Do you remember the apple tree I chopped down this fall?Ó

ÒYeah.Ó

ÒThis spring, Yvonne, weÕre going to look at the stump.Ó

ÒOK.Ó

ÒWhen itÕs Christmas weÕre going to look at a stump. And when we look closely weÕll see a tiny bud. Few people noticed when Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem, where David once lived. When they got to the stable where Mary had a baby, there were only a few who knew what this meant. Who were they, Jake?Ó

Jake didnÕt feel too comfortable answering. ÒThe shepherds,Ó he mumbled.

ÒJesus was like a bud and He would grow into a into a large tree. Yvonne, what all those people, many of them shopping for a Christmas tree, did not realize was that this is the message of Christmas. Jesus was the Son of David because Mary was a descendent of David, but He was also the Son of God sent by the Father to die for sinners. When He became alive again, He went up to heaven to sit at GodÕs right hand. HeÕs coming again to reign the way God told David He would reign. All who know this Christmas message and worship Him, like the shepherds did, will be in His kingdom.Ó

Dad realized heÕd said enough. He flipped the Bible to Isaiah 11. Yvonne turned to Dad as he read: ÒAnd there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his rootsÉÓ

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