Last December Hamilton Gibson Productions performed a poem written by Presbyterian minister Henry van Dyke at Wellsboro’s Dickens of a Christmas Celebration. The poem is entitled “The Foolish Fir-Tree” and tells the story of a fir tree in the middle of the woods.
Although the little fir tree started out content and happy with his beautiful evergreen clothes, trouble came in the summer. He looked around and saw all the different types of leaves and shapes that other trees had. Looking at his own stiff needles, he concluded that he had the poorest dress of all. Out of jealousy, the fir desired to be dressed in gold to bedazzle the others. One morning, he awoke gladdened to be dressed in brightly beaten gold. But a merchant walked by, took all his valuable gold leaves, and left him shivering there. The fir then decided he wanted to be dressed in glass. He awoke dressed like a beautiful crystal chandelier. But a wind blew and shattered every glass leaf, leaving the fir bare.
The fir concluded gold and glass would not do, so he desired a dress made of lettuce. And, sure enough, he awoke dressed in lettuce. But a goat came by and ate every scrumptious leaf. The fir stood without a single limb. He was ashamed. His envy of the other trees left him to a leafless fate. But, at last, one morning he awoke up dressed again in his beautiful evergreen. The poem ends: “And always contented and happy was he, – the very best kind of Christmas tree.”
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden, they discovered they are nude (Genesis 3:7). They try to hide their shame, so they sewed together fig leaves to make pathetic, crumble-prone loin cloths. All of us have experienced shame in our lives: we worry we are not smart, pretty, successful, or good enough. We exert all types of effort and tactics to cover our shame. None of these efforts suffice.
But God did something that Adam and Eve were unable to do. He sacrificed an animal and made Adam and Eve full-covering tunics made of durative animal skin to replace the insufficient loincloths (Genesis 3:21). Christ does a similar thing for us. He takes our shame (Mark 15:19-20), and clothes us with his righteousness (Galatians 3:26-27, cp. Isaiah 61:10).
What clothes are you wearing? In what ways are you trying to hide your shame? How might you allow Christ to clothe you and take away the shame?
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