I love the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It’s big, has five gazillion lights and people ice skate around it all winter long. What’s not to like? My favorite part, though, is watching the interviews the media does with the family who donates the tree. They’re usually from a Northeastern state close to New York and have spent years driving into the city to check out the Rockefeller tree.
But now it’s not just any tree. It’s their tree. The most famous Christmas tree on the planet came right out of their yard. You can tell it’s a huge deal for them. It’s like a member of your family winning American Idol.
My wife says she’d have a hard time giving up an enormous tree like that. Fortunately we just have a scraggly Bradford pear and a six foot dogwood and will not likely face that vexing moral dilemma. I get what she’s saying, though. Those are amazing trees that have probably been in their family for years. Tough to give that up.
But the Rockefeller thing is no ordinary invitation. The people in charge of tree selection scour the countryside by car and by air, spending months searching for just the right tree. Then once they find it, it becomes the jewel in the crown of the big apple during the busiest season of the year. Imagine that, having millions of people flood into New York City just to see your tree. Your tree would play a huge role in thousands of families’ holiday memories and traditions. Donating a Rockefeller tree allows you to become a part of something much bigger than you.
I think we all long to be a part of something bigger, to be chosen, to make a contribution that counts. The great news is that we don’t have to have a 70 foot spruce tree in our yard for that to happen. Just as the Rockefeller gardeners search high and low for the perfect tree, there’s a God who’s been searching for us for years. Like the gardeners, He offers us an extraordinary invitation to be a part of something absolutely gigantic – the kingdom of God.
We’ve all been chosen. We’ve all been honored. We’ve all been invited to make a significant contribution to the world. Does such a huge privilege require a sacrifice? Sure, but the biggest sacrifice has already been made.
I thought about that this year when I watched the video of the crew hauling the Rockefeller tree into the city. They have a special tradition of driving a spike into the base of the tree before hoisting it into place. The cool part is that the family who donates the tree gets to hammer in the spike. As I watched it, I kept thinking about hammers and spikes and trees and sacrifice.
Sometimes we all feel forgotten, all feel passed over, all feel insignificant. But the Bible tells a story about a tree of sacrifice that says to all of us that we’re not forgotten. We’re not insignificant. We’ve already been selected and invited. In short, we matter to God, and our lives and the goodness we contribute matters to the world.