Among the many wonderful Christmas stories and legends is the German story about St. Boniface, the eighth-century Englishman who brought the Gospel to Germany; on the night of December 24th, Boniface came upon a giant oak tree, sacred to the great pagan god Odin. A young boy was about to be sacrificed under the people’s sacred tree. The horrified Boniface seized an axe, and with one stroke, felled the giant oak. The people were terrified, waiting for their gods to strike Boniface dead. But nothing happened. They realized that their gods were powerless, nonexistent.
Boniface then pointed to a nearby fir tree and said to the worshipers: “Not a drop of blood shall fall tonight, for this is the night of Christ’s birth, the Savior of the world. This little tree, a young seedling of the forest, shall be a home tree tonight. Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather about it, not in the wild woods, but in your homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and lights of kindness.”
Our Christmas readings speak of a world transformed from bareness to life, from sickness and fear to healing and hope, from hatred and injustice to love and peace. May our Christmas tree this year, like Boniface’s “home tree”, be our first planting this year of a new attitude and vision of kindness, compassion and reconciliation; may our celebration of Christ’s birth be the first we use to create a new highway for the coming of our God.
Wishing you all a joyful Christmas season filled with much love and peace.