1 Corinthians 12:7,11 – Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (NIV)
It was a tradition in our home to leave the tree up and decorated until the date which my mother called "little Christmas" had passed. This fell on January 6th, and I now know it as Epiphany. We were afraid to turn on the lights for fear of a fire, yet still the tree stood, tinder dry, with the needles continually falling to the floor.
I can always remember when the tree was dismantled and the decorations put away for another year. We took the tree out through the doorway, leaving behind a trail of needles all over the place. Out it went, almost naked, to the roadway, to be gathered up by the waste management department.
That beautiful tree had stood in all its glory during the Advent season, until the day after Epiphany. When it was taken down, it always seemed a sad day for me — to see and know that Christmas was finally over. But as the tree left the house and the mess was tidied up, the house took on a new look, not quite so cluttered, and sparkling clean.
As I reflected on this scene, it now seems a time to move on with life — not only looking forward, but doing so with respect for the baby Jesus and sharing His lifetime of manifestation for us. If we have not done so, it is time that we put to use the gifts we have been given by His Spirit — gifts which were under the tree [so to speak] and which are now unwrapped and ready for use.
We have been given a wonderful opportunity to put behind all thoughts of the barren tree and the sparkling ornaments now stored away, and to make good use of the gifts God has given to us — starting today.
Prayer: Dear Lord God almighty, Creator of all, enable us to make good use of Your gifts given and now thankfully received. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.