In some denominations, people have taken care not to celebrate Christmas traditions from pagan origins, including decorated trees or garlands in the sanctuary. In other churches, Christmas trees carry pledges or gifts to needy families or a community project.
I’ve been employed as a keyboardist and choir director for several denominations, and they have a wonderful tradition that my church hasn’t celebrated: the hanging of the greens. On the first Sunday of Advent, during the worship service, they bring fresh fir and pine boughs, handmade Christmas ornaments (some antique), and carry in a fragrant tree for the chancel. The sanctuary decoration is not left to a committee or a person with a design degree. As they move through the liturgy of praise to God, the choir members, children, couples, singles, and the elderly, all participate in beautifying God’s house and decorating the tree. Carols are sung, candles are lit, scriptures are read, children imperfectly clang the hand bells, and Communion is joyfully shared and celebrated. Offerings of green garlands and ornaments, as well as tithes and gifts of money, are presented to the Lord. In other words, the people fellowship and worship together, their eyes on God.
I hope that you will be blessed by the verses my Christian friends quote and sing in their Hanging of the Greens ceremony:
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints. Psalm 52:8-9 KJV
I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me. Hosea 14:8 NIV
A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. Isaiah 11:1 MSG
All your people will live right and well, in permanent possession of the land. They’re the green shoot that I planted, planted with my own hands to display my glory. Isaiah 60:21 MSG