I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas (and why you should too)

The trees gave up their leaves early this year. It was dry and brown has been the landscape color for months now. So, when the scorching heat passed finally sometime in October, the trees seemed to breath a collective sigh of relief and shed their skin. They’d born the weight, the burden of carrying those leaves long enough. The maple and the birch, the pear and plum, the sycamore and the aspen all gave up. Just like that.

But not the oak. Its thick waxy leaf still clings to the branch. And it is being rewarded. unnamed-10

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Yesterday we had rain, the kind we haven’t seen for four years, the kind that rekindles streams, that makes puddles in minutes, that completely washes off the surfaces of the earth. The kind that brings green.

And it’s not done yet. It’s misting today and the moss is back, the mushrooms are pushing out of the mud, the mist is rolling over the hills. It’s a perfect day.unnamed-6

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Taking a walk in the mist today, I remembered back to my 21st birthday when I headed out onto the moors of Yorkshire with little more than a camera, a stout pair of Wellies, and the best wax jacket a college student could buy. I had no mobile phone with GPS to guide, nothing to connect me to the outside world. Just me and a whole hillside of sheep. I felt again today a wonder at the misty clouds breaking over the treetops and at this green in front of me.
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This is a green with nuances of yellow and blue, a green that shouts, “LIFE!” It doesn’t scream it like I almost wrote. No, it shouts it. Not an angry scream but a joyful shout. “I’m alive and I’m growing and this is good,” I can hear the trees calling to each other under the gentle patter of raindrops. Roots long dry, gasping for the last faint hints of water in the soil are trembling today in glee.

I think this year, I’m dreaming of a green Christmas.

And I wonder if I’ve gotten it wrong all these years.

I do understand the romantic appeal of a white Christmas. There is something so delightful about the idea of a silent white snow blanketing the earth, like God is tucking us all up under a white fleecy throw where we are secure, warm, sleepy.

Funny thing is though that God didn’t come to tuck us into a big cozy earth bed.

There’s another side to the white blanketing snow. In Northeastern Ohio, where the sky and the snow make one long horizon-less expanse of a nebulous shade of grey, one feels it and might even call it despair. It’s a trudging dullness, a sleeping of the senses where sound is muted, touch is frigid, and sight is washed out.

Snow, like sand, is barren.

And into a barren landscape, God came to bring green… life. He birthed himself into baby form. Drawing breath, belting out a first scream into the night, He trumpeted His arrival with angels singing in the skies, shepherds running and calling through the streets at midnight, and a star much too bright to sleep through.

Jesus’ life was not one of security and warmth and sleep nor did he call out his disciples to such a life. His family had to flee to Egypt, children were murdered in his place, refugee that he was, vagrant itinerant doctor that he became. He didn’t come to heal the well, but to minister to the poor of heart, spirit, morals. He promised a water that would quench all thirst, a living water. He lifted up the impoverished and the uneducated and he called out the religious and the educated for their hypocrisy.

I’m looking at this brash green all around me and thinking, “This is Christmas!” Life, in your face living, green washed clean exposing the chlorophyll in brave ways, a carnival of green aliveness.

This is life in Christ.

Jesus wasn’t quiet and peaceful and blanketing and warmth and security. He was raucous green, speaking in puzzles, exposing fraudulent ideas about His Father God. And His epic day on the cross sprang forth an evergreen of salvation for those who believe in him.

He didn’t tuck us into a quiet bed to sleep until the angels sing us off to heaven. He empowered us to go into all the world making disciples of all people; he coaches us to let our light shine before others… like a green mossy festival of life.

So. Yah. You may want a white Christmas. But me? I want it green!

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