To be sure, Our Lord was crucified upon a tree, but doesn't tradition indicate it was a dogwood tree? And this is an evergreen - A Christmas tree.
And so it is that as we do not worship the tree but Him who was lifted up on it, we now begin the process of transforming the tree of salvation, the bare Christmas tree, into that most precious tree, the Grace Tree.
It was on that first Christmas that the star was born but it continues to give forth its light to all mankind. Today we await, not the coming of the star, but its return. Hear the words of the risen Lord Himself concerning the return of the star. (The star is now lit.)
It would not be long before the light of that star spread throughout the earth to bring light to a sin darkened world, hope where there was only despair, victory where defeat had reigned, love in place of hate. It was prophesied by Isaiah long before. (The lights are now lit.)
The tree is no longer alone and bare. It has new meaning with these added symbols. It might now be know as the Tree of Light and Life, but still cannot be called the Grace Tree. It was not without great cost that the Light was to shine forth in a world of darkness. We now must focus on the cost of redemption. In order for the Light to overcome the darkness and reestablish the relationship between God and man, a perfect sacrifice was necessary. The continued sacrifices of bulls and goats might cleanse the flesh but not the spirit. (The red garland is added to the tree.)
What is it that could cause God to offer His Son, His only begotten Son, to die upon a cross for the redemption of man? Is it somehow He, in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, could see that man was essentially good? Was it that under the surface mankind really deserved such an extravagant and costly salvation? Or was it something much more? (The three white streamers are placed at the top of the tree.)
And so it was that God, in His infinite mercy and grace, delivered man from his sinful nature, restoring him to that relationship with the Almighty that had been his at the creation. Bought at the price of Christ's death, man had received forgiveness. god had fulfilled His promise as set forth in the book of the prophet Isaiah. (The white tree skirt is placed on the bottom.)
And so at last, we come to the final symbol, that which will transform the simple Christmas Tree into the tree that speaks of the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord - The Grace Tree. Now we add to the tree, thirty three red roses, symbols, each one, of the years of preparation our Lord spent on Earth to be our Savior. Symbols of the resurrection in Him who is the Rose of Sharon.
(Thirty three people from the congregation place roses on the tree.)