[Symbol] – Christmas Tree
[A Symbol related Story]
A Tree for Travis By Charlotte Mae Sheppard
(Based on a true story)
Jacqueline’s family talked and laughed as they walked through the snow-dusted woods. But behind them, Jacqueline quietly trudged with the speed of a melting snowman.
She had waited all year for her family’s Christmas-tree hunt. She had dreamed about crunching through the frosty forest, sipping hot cocoa, and decorating the perfect tree until every branch sparkled with lights.
But now the frost she had waited for was freezing her toes, and the hot cocoa in her thermos didn’t taste as sweet as usual. She kept thinking about Travis.
Travis was Jacqueline’s best friend. He used to have a house near hers, but this winter his family had to move into a small trailer. The move had been really hard for Travis. There wasn’t even enough room for a Christmas tree in their new place. And Travis loved Christmas trees!
Suddenly Jacqueline stopped. Popping up from the snow in front of her was a tiny pine sapling. Maybe it would fit in Travis’s new home! Jacqueline’s eyes lit up as she reached for it—
“Whoa!” Dad said, putting a mittened hand on her shoulder. “We can’t cut down the little trees. They need to grow for next year.”
As Dad continued through the forest, Jacqueline looked back at the sapling and smiled. She had an idea.
Hours later Jacqueline was walking through the snow again—but this time in her own backyard. From where she stood, she could just glimpse her family’s Christmas tree twinkling through the windows of their house. Their tree hunt was over, but hers wasn’t quite finished.
She walked next to the towering trees that marked the edge of her yard until she saw a pine branch growing low enough to reach. It was just the right size for Travis’s trailer. Dad had told her that taking one small branch wouldn’t hurt the tree too much.
With a grunt Jacqueline broke off the branch. But it didn’t look at all like the Christmas tree twinkling inside. Making Travis’s tree was going to be harder than she thought!
The next day Jacqueline sat in the car and watched the forest rush by in a blur of brown and green.
“Aren’t you excited to give Travis his tree?” Mom asked.
Jacqueline shrugged. She had spent all day trying to make the little tree look just right, but it didn’t end up nearly as nice as she wanted.
They parked in front of Travis’s trailer, and Jacqueline opened the trunk. When she saw the tree, her heart sank. It was lopsided, with needles drooping from its branches. Even the ribbons Jacqueline had tied around it were crumpled. Hot tears stung at the corner of Jacqueline’s eyes. It looked nothing like a real Christmas tree. It would probably just make Travis’s Christmas worse!
The door to the trailer swung open, and Travis bounded down the steps. With a deep breath, Jacqueline held out the tree. “Merry Christmas!” she said shakily.
When Travis saw the tree, a grin spread across his face. “Wow! It’s perfect!” he cried out. “Thank you!”
Jacqueline felt a warm feeling grow inside her, melting away the sad and worried feelings she’d had before. She realized that her gift wasn’t really the tree or the ribbons—so it didn’t matter if those were perfect or not. What she had really given Travis was love. Like Jesus would have done.
And she couldn’t wait to give it again.
[Song] – My Christmas tree
Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.
[Challenge – Be Steadfast & Immovable]
Most Christmas Trees are evergreens, or trees that stay green even in the cold of winter. In order to grow tall, evergreen trees must stand strong through many storms. They are a symbol of strength and of standing firm in your beliefs, and of keeping your promises, even when it is hard to do. The top of the evergreen tree reaches up into the sky, reminding us of Heaven and of the loving God who is waiting for us there. Today think of the promises you have made to God and try and keep them.
[Article relating to the challenge]
Christmas Is about the Christ – President Uchtdorf:
Commenting on the pressure and anxiety often felt by those who focus on the temporal side of the Christmas season, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said, “We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. … [But] sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs … and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.”
However, if we focus our hearts and minds on the true spirit of Christmas, President Uchtdorf said, “we will recognize wonderful things happening around us.”
See Christmas for What It Truly Is
He continued, “It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture, we hear a sacred carol and really listen to its words, or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life [that] we too often use to adorn it.
“We realize in these precious moments what we feel and know in our heart—that Christmas is about the Christ.”
What We Can Give
President Uchtdorf said that we, “like the Wise Men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before Him the most precious of gifts: a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We should offer Him our love. We should give Him our willingness to take upon ourselves His name and walk in the path of discipleship. We should promise to remember Him always, to emulate His example, and to go about doing good.”
We cannot offer perfection, and the Saviour does not expect it, President Uchtdorf said. “But He does require that we bring as gifts our best efforts to move ourselves, one foot in front of the other, walking in the ways He has prepared and taught.”
The Saviour’s Gifts to Us
“The Saviour’s gifts to us are breath taking,” President Uchtdorf said. He explained that through the Atonement, the Saviour offers us immortality, forgiveness, and eternal life.
Though some of Christ’s gifts to us will be given only when our time on earth ends, President Uchtdorf emphasized the many gifts that the Saviour gives every day. “He promises to be with us, to come to us when we need comfort, to lift us when we stumble, to carry us if need be, to cry, laugh, mourn, and rejoice with us. Every day He offers to take us by the hand and help transform ordinary life into extraordinary spiritual experiences.”
Christ the King Has Come
President Uchtdorf concluded, “Of course, we do not need a Christmas holiday or Christmas traditions to remember Jesus Christ, the Saviour. … May each Christmas season remind us to lift up our voices and fill our hearts with joy and gratitude that Christ the King has come! Christ lives! He is real. He is our Redeemer at Christmas and always.”
10th Anniversary Advent Throw-back :
[A Favourite from Previous Advents]
In Lehi’s dream the tree of life represents the love of God and is referred to as the greatest of all the gifts of God, As we put up our Christmas Tree let us see it’s significance as the centre upon which all gifts are given. Let us look and see a symbol of Christ.
Here is a Story I love that I’d love to share every Christmas with my children:
[The Three Trees]
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said: “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see the beauty.”
Then the second tree said:
“Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”
Finally the third tree said:
“I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said: “This looks like a strong tree. I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,” and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.
At the second tree the woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.
When the woodsman came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true.
One of the woodsmen said, “I don’t need anything special from my tree, so I’ll take this one”, and he cut it down.
When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he prayed for.
The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.
The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams. Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree.
The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the small fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn’t think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said “Peace” and the storm calmed. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined.
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