Sitting at the kitchen table with your prayers laid before me, this Scripture echoes in my heart:
“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Gen 22: 1-2
“I could offer each card in a similar fashion,” I tell myself. “Simply send the cards up to Heaven and perhaps that will be enough.” But, like Abraham, I know the offering isn’t about the vessel, it’s about what lies inside it that must be offered up.
I light a candle and think of the offering I am asked to give and am suddenly stricken by grief. Tears stream down my face.
“How can I, Lord?” I cry. “These prayers have become a part of me, a part of my family. Their hearts have become one with our hearts. They have nourished my downtrodden spirit and You ask me to let them go? I never knew how hard it would be to give them to You. O Lord help me give them to You.”
“I will carry them and guide them and love them. Release them to Me. Let them go,” is His answer.
So I pray, “Beating hearts. One with ours. One with Yours. Take them, Jesus. Take them and love them. For their hearts have changed me and I would give them to no one other than You.”
And to Him, I offer your prayers, your gifts. The greatest gifts you could have given Him, and He smiles. Your heart and His heart now beat in unison. You cry out to Him for miracles and He takes you by the hand. “Come,” He calls, “let Me lead. Follow.”
The flame in the candle dances for a moment and then calms to a gentle glow. The lights from the Advent Tree radiate with new light. A Christmas Light. The light they are able to shine brightly because they are freed, as we all are, in the arms of the King.
When the Lord first laid The Advent Tree on our hearts, we did not know what to expect. We felt a change coming and a call to recenter our focus on the Miracle of Christmas through the power of your prayers, but weren’t sure how it would all unfold or what the finished project would bear. The amazing thing about God is that when you answer His call, He bears gifts 10-fold. And that’s just what you did – you answered His call and The Advent Tree blossomed and grew beyond our wildest expectations.
The Advent Tree, once bare, lit like a flame and spread across Twitter, Facebook, and the Blogosphere like wildfire. Dozens upon dozens of prayers flooded in and our hands cramped and hearts ached as we etched each one on the cards that would adorn our tree.
Our children held, read, and prayed for you and your loved ones. I will never forget when Jack looked up at me one morning and said, “Mommy, I want more prayers to hang on the tree.”
Your beautiful prayers filled the tree’s branches. Truly, it was the most beautiful tree we’ve ever seen.
On Christmas Night, Jeff and I reread each prayer as we took them down from the tree. With your prayers resting in the arms of Jesus, The Advent Tree became a Christmas Tree and now shines bright, anew.
Friends, because of you and our amazing God, this Advent Season was life-changing for our family. We were touched by souls and prayers that will never fully leave us.
If the Advent Tree impacted you and your family, we would love hear from you! Please share your stories in the comments below or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, several of you want to do your own Advent Trees next year which is just amazing! We are working on typing up a how to guide and would love your input – What intrigued you about the Advent Tree? What questions do you have? What are ways you see the project growing? Next year it is our hope and prayer that the Advent Tree idea will spread like wildfire across the nation with Advent Trees popping up all over the country, celebrating a Christmas brought back to Christ.