High River United Church of High River, Alberta


Blessing the Christmas Tree

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When I was about 4 years old, my parents took me to see Santa Claus at the Hudson’s Bay, in downtown Calgary.  During my visit with Santa, I was presented with a porcelain “wishing bell.”  For every Christmas since, it has been part of my Christmas tradition.  Once the tree is decorated, we stand around it, holding hands and each offer a wish – really a prayer – and then the bell is hung on the tree at the highest point.  The tradition that began for me as a child is now shared every year with my husband and boys.  In July 2013, when we began digging out the mess left by the flood waters in our basement, David asked me what I wanted to try to save. One of the first things that came to mind was my “wishing bell.”  David, bless his heart, found it in the mucky, muddy remnants of our Christmas decoration boxes. We washed it up and we continue to make the decorating of our Christmas tree a faith-filled act each year as we hang my Hudson’s Bay wishing bell.


The path of faith doesn’t exist outside of us walking it.  A sense of faith that provides resilience in our lives comes when we practice our faith day by day.  It is so easy in our society for faith to get lost.  In this season that is really all about faith, there are many things that call to our kids and to us that do not help nurture faith within us.  We need to snatch back Advent & Christmas and find the ways that help us, in our families, make the journey to Bethlehem one that nurtures faith in ourselves and in our children.


One way to do that is to make each Advent-Christmas tradition into something that connects with what we believe about God, Jesus and faith-filled living.  The Advent Calendar might be used in reverse – as well as there being a treat to discover each day, it might remind us to put a food item in a box for the food bank.  While each gift is wrapped, we might offer a prayer for the person who will receive the gift.  As we watch the Santa Claus parade, we might look for signs of hope, peace, joy and love as the floats and decorated vehicles go by. 


When we put up the Christmas tree, we can offer a prayer of blessing, such as this one:

 (when the tree is in the stand, but before decorating it)

 God who created the birds in the air, the fish in the sea,

the stars in the sky, and the trees in the ground,
bless this tree as we decorate it and make it joyful symbol in our home.
May its branches remind us of the shade and shelter
you provide for us and for many creatures.
May its trunk remind us of your strength.
May its lights bring us peace.
May we remember your gift to us this season, the gift of the baby Jesus.  Amen.

 from “Building Faith”  by Traci Smith  www.buildfaith.org


 Choose one ornament that will be your special ornament to hang last each year.  It might be a bell, like mine, or a star, an angel, a dove, or something significant for your family.  Hang it last, and invite each person to say, out-loud or silently, a prayer for others and for our world. Then greet each other with the word, “Peace” and sing a verse of “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger.”


Faith deepens in our lives as we practice it.  The hope, peace, joy and love of God provide resilience in our lives when we nurture them in our daily spiritual rituals.  What we want our children to know is that God is with them; they are not alone no matter what they face in life.  And that’s the message of the Advent-Christmas season!  What a blessed gift to give them this Christmas!

December 3, 2015                      ©Susan Lukey 2015


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