To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. [Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)]
It was a web day at the bird sanctuary and I don’t mean the world-wide kind. It was one of those days when the morning dew, mist, and light cooperated in such a way that we saw beautiful intricate spider webs hanging everywhere. Looking as if they were made of strands of silver rather than silk, it seemed that the spiders had decorated all the trees in celebration of Christmas.
They reminded me of an old folktale that was read to me every Christmas. As I remember it, a mother thoroughly cleaned her house in preparation for Christmas and not a cobweb remained. All of the spiders fled to the attic lest they be swept away with their webs. On Christmas Eve, they heard the joyful noise of carols being sung and grew curious. Once the family went to bed, they all crept downstairs to see what the commotion had been about. Amazed by the beautifully decorated tree and never having seen anything like it, they crawled up and down the tree all night long as they admired every shiny ornament. Unfortunately, by morning’s light, the tree was covered with their gray webs and the ornaments were barely visible.
On Christmas morning, when the Christ child came to bless the house, He was surprised to see the spiders and their strands of silk covering the tree’s branches. Knowing how sad the family would be to see their once beautiful tree covered with dusty webs, the Christ child touched it. The spiders’ gray threads immediately turned into strands of silver and gold and the exquisite tree shimmered and shone more beautifully than ever.
I love this story and not just because it explains how the custom of hanging tinsel on a tree began. The Christ child, with His heart full of love, entered the home to bring a blessing for the family. Touching the damaged tree transformed it into a thing of beauty and, with that touch, He saved their Christmas celebration. Christ has a heart full of love for all of us and comes into our lives to bless us. When He touches our damaged hearts, like the tree, they’ll become things of beauty. We won’t look any different nor will we be adorned with strands of gold and silver but, once He’s touched us, our lives will be beautifully transformed. He doesn’t just save our Christmas; He saves our lives!
Our Christmas tree has no tinsel to remind me of Jesus’ miraculous touch. Nevertheless, every time I see a spider web glistening in the morning light, I remember how Christ has transformed my damaged life into a thing of beauty and give thanks.
The first gift of Christmas was love. A parent’s love. Pure as the first snows of Christmas. For God so loved His children that He sent His son, that we might someday return to Him. [Richard Paul Evans]