A Hardwood Christmas Legend

Dec 11th, 2011 | By | Category: Spotlight, Sunday Sermon


As we enter another Christmas holiday season, I am reminded that there are many of us, at home and abroad, who are having difficulties and hardships. There are a host of economic downturns and setbacks, political upheavals and disparities, illnesses and disabilities, wars with loved ones in harm’s way, and unfathomable personal losses, as well as a plethora of unresolved grievances. So, as a break from the regular routine of my usual postings here, I offer a poem I wrote this week inspired by the ugliest Christmas tree I have ever dragged home and plopped in my living room.

I hope and pray you and your family will find greater meaning in this season of Christmas. No matter what spiritual shape you are in, God has never stopped loving you. He longs to hear from you and bear your burdens, as well as invest in your joys. Things are not always as bleak as they seem (but sometimes it gets pretty darn dark!) Let the light of God’s love lead your way.

Merry Christmas!

From the Gadfly

The Ugliest Christmas Tree Legend

There are seasons of plenty and seasons in doubt,
When most baskets are filled, but then some are poured out.
But in seasons of wonder both wealthy and poor,
Have a reason to hope, which they should not ignore.

It was just such a season that soon most would learn,
There was need for a fire, and yet no fuel to burn.
Many pockets were empty, many hearts had grown cold.
When the least and the greatest of stories was told.

There was a young woodsman standing there in the wood
With a haft in his hand, by a tree, there he stood.
As he lifted the ax to strike down his full weight,
Cried a voice from the bark, “Lord, have mercy! Please wait!”

Dropping straight from his hands so the ax struck the ground,
Mouth agape, he looked straight to the source of the sound.
“What is this?” asked the man, “Is the Devil about?
Or did I hear a voice from this trunk crying out?”

“Lord, bless you kind woodsman,” said the tree in reply,
“Though I bear little beauty, please don’t let me die.
Please grant me this pardon, spare me now from the blade.
For what profit might bring was not why I was made.”

“Long ago before planting, or seedling, or twig,
The Voice told creation, ‘I have something quite big.
I have need of your service to carry my plan.
For someday you will bear My salvation for man.’

‘I shall choose from your forests the humblest of wood,
Lacking grace in appearance, but inwardly good.
Great honor forthcoming, through each hardship and pain,
As a symbol shall your kind forever remain.’

“And so, my dear woodsman, this is now my request.
Please remove just the branches and leave all the rest.
At the inn in town, sell my wood to a stranger.
He will pay a fair price; he’s building a manger.

“And in thirty-two years, please return to this spot.
I’ll be waiting for you, counting down every knot.
Take my life in your hands, cut me down and take care.
Bear my wood to Jerusalem, then sell me there.

“You will find there a craftsman the Romans pay well.
He has need of my wood for the cross he will sell.
And one day he’ll need me. I shall be his first choice.
A savior shall bear me, in response to the Voice.

“And though I lack beauty, still my purpose is clear.
Yes, I have been chosen for this service so dear.
And there, I shall bear him as, in pain, he bore me,
On a hill, shall I hold him for all men to see.

“Dear woodsman,” the tree cried, “Please swear to me true,
That you’ll carry this out just as I have told you.
I shall bear at His birth. I shall bear Him in death.
And new life shall He bring, like the very first breath.”

So the woodsman did swear to that ugly old tree,
As a manger and cross, so the promise would be.
Then a baby was born like none other had been,
Yes, a savior had come, and to save us from sin.

Now the hope never fades and the love yet abides,
From the heart, from the Voice, from the place it resides.
For the ugliest thing that was done on that wood,
Brought the loveliest gift and the greatest of good.

There are seasons of plenty and seasons in doubt,
When most baskets are filled, but then some are poured out.
But in seasons of wonder both wealthy and poor,
Have a reason to hope, which they should not ignore.

(copyright 2011, Gregory Allen Doyle)

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