The first person to bring a Christmas tree home to be used in the manner we do today may have been the 16th century German preacher Martin Luther. Legend tell us that one night before Christmas, he was walking through the forest and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful that he went home and told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.
The first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. At first, a figure of the Baby Jesus was put on the top of the tree. Over time it changed to an angel/fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw.
Take a moment to bless your tree as a symbol of light that will accompany you on your journey to meet Jesus at Christmas.
A liturgy for blessing a Christmas tree
To be performed in the evening, after a meal and around the fully decorated tree. The family responds together at bold sections. The head of the house begins by saying:
Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our lord
Thanks be to God
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp to put it under a bucket, but on a lamp-stand where it gives light for everyone in the house. And you, like the lamp, must shed light among your fellow men, so that they may see the deed you do, and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Let us pray. Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as daylight fades, with the brightness of the vesper light; and we implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so you would shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O gracious light,
pure brightness of the ever living Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!
Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.
A reading from Isaiah 6:1-6
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; hey rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Another family member says:
This tree is a blessing to our home. It reminds us of all that is beautiful, all that is filled with the gentleness and the promise of God. It stands in our midst as a tree of light, that we might promise such beauty to one another and to our world. It stands like that tree of paradise that God made into the tree of life, the cross of Jesus.
God of all creation, we praise you for this tree which brings beauty and memories and the promise of life to our home. May your blessing be upon all who gather around this tree, and upon all who keep the Christmas festival by its light. We wait for the coming of the Christ, the days of everlasting justice and of peace. You are our God, living and reigning, for ever and ever. Amen
The lights of the tree are then turned on. The blessing concludes with a verse from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
May God the Maker bless us,
That we give what God has made to all of God’s children.
May God the storyteller bless us,
That our laughter and light this Christmastide may continue God’s story.
May God the life-breather bless us,
That this Christmastide we may be a source of life and light and love to all we meet. AMEN.