Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Three Trees

Teaching Tip Tuesday

Most of you have probably heard of the Tale of the Three Trees, a traditional folktale, retold by Angela Elwell Hunt. It is generally thought of as an Easter story, but in our house it is a Christmas tradition to read and discuss this beautifully written and illustrated children's book. A few years ago, I found the set of Christmas trees pictured below at our local Kroger store. (This is the best deal I could find online.) I initially bought them because I wanted to spruce up (pun intended) the fireplace. Every time I looked at them, I knew they reminded me of something, but I just could not pinpoint what it was. I don't remember exactly how I finally made the connection, but something jogged my memory, and I ordered a copy of the book.

Each year, after we finish decorating our home for Christmas, we read the story of how three trees, growing side-by-side on a hill, dream of greatness. One hopes to hold treasure. The second wants to be a great sailing ship, and the third wants to grow tall and point to God. All three find their dreams fulfilled, but in the much humbler form of a manger, a fishing boat, and a cross. Though they are not fashioned to be items of significance, each one plays a significant part in the ministry of Christ.

After reading, we discuss our dreams. Just like the trees, we have to remember that the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness. " And we must respond as Paul did, "Therefore, I will rather gladly boast in my weakness, that the power of Christ may overshadow me." 2 Cor 12:9 We talk about how our hopes and goals must be grounded in faith and we must not consider anything that the Lord calls us to do insignificant. Instead we remember that "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever." (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 1)

We also spread all of our Jesse tree ornaments (see this post by Counter-cultural school) across our table and talk about the purpose for decorating our tree this way. We teach that all of the Bible points to Christ, and that He was born to die. He came to earth to secure our salvation. The manger points to the cross, and the cross to the empty tomb. What a cause we have to celebrate!

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