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   If you put a Christmas tree in your church building, that’s “Step 1.”

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For “Step 2

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go through the DOOR.

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   Your tree, of course, is beautifully decorated one way or another. That’s Step 1.

   For Step 2, after the Christmas season is over, take your youth group to where the tree is and have them remove the decorations and set the reusable ones aside. Then pull out an outdoor limb saw (a handsaw, no motor) and cut off the branches one by one until only the center trunk of the tree is left. Without ceremony, put this part of the tree in the janitor’s closet for safe keeping.

   Step 3: A week before Easter take the dried-out center part of the tree out (with or without others helping) and saw a short part of the trunk off. Nail this piece to the large piece that’s left¹ and make a crude cross with no adornment whatsoever. Place this in the same place as the tree stood at Christmas time.

   If you want to go farther, here’s Step 4: Read, or make a poster of the one part of the Christmas story that’s rarely found on Christmas cards: Luke 2:33-35. Think of what Mary had to take away from her Temple encounter.

   The grand, great, total, complete gift of lasting salvation and peace came without tinsel.

Merry Christmas

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   ¹ You want to prepare ahead of time a secure way to secure the cross member by using a large nail, screw, or baling wire. And the two round pieces can be notched to fit more securely. These steps, of course, can be done privately at home as an alternative.