During Advent this year, I will be reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. The word designated for December 9th was #Branch. Admittedly, I am a couple days behind, but I am trying to catch up on the series.
The Gospel of Matthew begins by spending 17 verses explaining the genealogy of Jesus, laying out the branch and family tree of which Jesus comes. It’s fun to think about where and from whom you come from. For example, among my ancestors, if I were to draw a family tree it would include someone who came over to the United States on one of the first ships after the Mayflower, another who lost the family’s noble name in a duel in Germany, someone who supposedly may have been burned at the stake, and plenty of farmers from Norway (among many others). It’s fun to remember where we come from, perhaps gleaning where we are going.
One of the verses from the great Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” comes to mind.
“O come, O Branch of Jesse, free your own from Satan’s tyranny; from depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.”
It’s an interesting coincidence that many of us hang ornaments from the branches of Christmas trees. I wonder if this was, somewhere along the line anyway, an intentional connection with remembering the branches of the family trees we all come from?
If you celebrate or decorate by putting up a Christmas tree and have your tree up already, spend a moment looking at it and find a branch with an ornament that tells a particular story about your family history? Or, perhaps something on the tree reminds you of where you come from? If so, what ornament is it, and what story or memory does it bring to mind?
It might seem strange, but the first ornament I am drawn to today is the ornament that I remember having first, one of Mickey Mouse dressed up as Santa Claus. It always brings me such joy, both because of the smile on Mickey’s face, but also because of the joy of the nearly 30 Christmases past where I have helped hang him on the tree. Remembering back to getting the trees from a local tree farm with my family and then putting up all the decorations with them, and now putting up the decorations each year with my wife Allison, is special. This ornament in particular has been part of that as long as I can remember.
I am sure you have a memory similar to this. I wonder though, what might it be for you? On what branch does it hang, and from what branch do you grow?
Source: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Koln, 1710, French processional, 15th century, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 257.