Blessing of Christmas Tree

READER: The erecting and decorating of Christmas Trees originated in Germany some three hundred years ago, and came to this country during the reign of Queen Victoria. It’s meaning comes from the story of the Fall in the Garden of Eden which we find in the Book of Genesis. It was originally called the ‘Paradise Tree’, symbolising the Tree of Life in the Garden. It was decorated by apples (and we have some apples on our tree), symbolic of the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil that the first Eve and the first Adam ate in disobedience to God. It also carried candles – lights to express the Jesus Light of the World,  Light of Forgiveness scattering the darkness. And it was decorated on Christmas Eve – the traditional Feast of Adam and Eve in the Eastern Church.

This year, however, this tree takes on a new meaning for us: as the rain forests are being destroyed and the eco-systems of our world are breaking down through the plundering and abuse of our beautiful planet, let this tree remind us that God entrusted the Earth to humanity (symbolised by Adam and Eve), to care for and live in communion with all creation. Let us listen to words of Pope Francis concerning the effects of Global Warming:

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will be felt by developing countries. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to global warming. Changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognised as refugees. Our lack of response to these our brothers and sisters points to the loss of a sense of responsibility for each other upon which society is founded.’

So, as we draw close to Christmas Eve, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Second Adam, gift of the Second Eve, Mary, we put in place the symbols of the First Adam and Eve. This reminds us that Mary’s loving obedience ‘untied the knot’ of Eve’s disobedience, and that Jesus, the New Adam, came to be the One who saves us from the First Adam’s sin. Jesus, the New Adam is the One who renews and heals all Creation and calls us to share in His redeeming work. The Tree that brought death is transformed by the Cross of Jesus Christ into the Tree of Everlasting Life. For on Christmas Day, we do indeed greet the Saviour!

PRIEST:   O God, who by the Power of Your Word and Hovering Spirit
                     did create all things and made them good
                     and created men and women in your own image and likeness:
                    pour your blessing upon this Paradise Tree …

PEOPLE:                 BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:    May it be a sign for us children of Adam of our need of a Saviour
                      and of the sublime gift of Jesus Christ who recreates us
                      in the glorious image of the Second Adam …

PEOPLE:                  BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:     May it be a sign for us of the Tree of the Redeeming Adam, Jesus,
                      who embraced the Wood of the Cross for our Salvation and Healing …

PEOPLE:                  BLESSED BE GOD!

PRIEST:        We bless and dedicate, O God, this Tree to your Honour and Glory
that it might shine with Light where once there was darkness,
that it might express the fruit of Redemption
where once sin held the sway,
that it might stand to remind us that Jesus came as the Saviour
who died on the Tree so that the Tree of the Cross might ever give Life

              AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

PEOPLE:                AMEN!