I’ve been astounded this week at TDF‘s production of a Gospelized version of A Christmas Carol. I’ve just come from the Saturday night showing, and I can say that our whole church is grateful for God’s blessings of talent, skill, hard work, meaningful moments, and large crowds. The play also fits perfectly with our Christmas theme: An Empty Christmas is an Exciting Christmas. Here’s the way I’m beginning tomorrow morning’s message on The Empty Cross.
In my hometown of Elizabethton, Tennessee, there’s an old house located by the courthouse. It was once the home of Major H. M. Folsom, who was the only commissioned officer from Carter Counter in the Confederate Army (most of the Tennessee mountain people sided with the Yankees). Major Folsom survived the war, came back home, more or less reconciled with neighbors, and planted a pine tree in his front yard. It was a Fraser Fir.
Well, that pine tree has outlived him by a hundred years. Today it stands at about 80 feet and is one of the oldest and tallest living Christmas trees in the United States. I happened to be in Elizabethton a few years ago for the annual lighting of this tree. It was a festive occasion, and it made me wonder if there are Christmas trees in America that are older. Here are some interesting Christmas tree superlatives:
- The General Grant Tree in the Sequoia National Park is said to be the oldest and tallest Christmas tree in the world. It’s over 1600 years old, nearly 300 feet high, and over 100 feet in circumference. President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed it the “Nation’s Christmas Tree” many years ago, and park rangers set a Christmas wreath at its base every year.
- The world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree is in Mexico City. It’s about the same height and width as the General Grant and made of steel wires.
- The world’s largest artificial floating Christmas tree is in Brazil. It’s in Rio de Janeiro and is as tall as a 29-story building.
- The world’s tallest Christmas tree featuring an animated light show is in Idaho, in case anyone is interested in that bit of trivia.
- The most illuminated tree in the world is in the main cathedral in Cologne, Germany. It boasts 150,000 lights.
- The worlds’ most expensive Christmas tree is a $2-million dollar artificial tree (if you can use the word “artificial” to describe pure gold). It’s in an exclusive jewelry story in Tokyo.
- The world’s most expensively decorated tree is in the oil-rich Islamic city of Abu Dhabi, where a thirteen-foot artificial tree is bedecked with $11 million worth of of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires, and so forth.
These sites might draw in some tourists and win a place in a few record books. Some of them you could find in travel brochures, coffee table books, or in the Guinness Book of World Records. But I have another book that identifies the richest and oldest and best of all our Christmas trees. The original Christmas tree – the one that shows us the real meaning of the birth of Christ.
This tree is so tall that it towers over the wrecks of time. It’s so old it stretches into the shadows of eternity past. It’s so wide it encompasses all the world.
First Peter 2:24 says:
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.
That’s Christ’s tree — His Merry Christmas to a world in need.