Christmas will not be the same; Douglas is not the same. Yes, it is true that the over 30 year old Douglas Christmas Tree has been felled. It was not without due process and due deliberation that the tree was cut and removed from the Douglas Community United Methodist Church. AEL&P was concerned about limbs that were in the power lines. It seems that during a Taku wind storm last winter, the needles from many of the trees in Douglas were stripped and ripped from their trees. I think the needles ended up in the gutters of residents out in the Valley. They are the needles that you are all cleaning out of your gutters right now in preparation for this winter.
The Douglas Fourth of July Committee would not have been able to use the tree this winter for their Christmas Tree Lighting because of the dangerous situation with the limbs. You may have found pieces of the broken off lights in your yard this spring, were we to use the tree. The Douglas United Methodist Church has cheerfully and graciously donated the electricity to power the lights all these years, and it was a member who donated and planted the tree over 30 years ago, but this winter, Douglas will no longer have that tree. When the Fourth of July Committee contacted us regarding their plans not to use the tree in 2011 for the Tree Lighting, the inevitability of the demise of the tree circulated through the congregation. In the Methodist tradition, we are big on tradition. Church committees were alerted, discussion ensued, dialogue engaged and decisions were made. It only helps the grief a little bit to know that decisions were made in a thoughtfully reasoned and prayerful way. On behalf of the Douglas Community United Methodist Church as the Pastor, please accept our heartfelt condolences to all who were shocked by the non-presence of the tree.
When changes come to a community, neighborhood or church, a time of grieving for the way things were begins. Somehow, with the loss of the tree in the yard of our church, symptoms of grief manifested themselves and as Douglas undergoes more changes with the seasons, we are thankful that we have the stability of church to help us through these times in our communities and in our personal lives. It is Christmas that gave us the Church; it is Christ and the Spirit that is lived out through all seasons of change through the Church. The Christmas Spirit will be preserved in Douglas this year. Beside the Christmas Eve Services and the Advent Wreath celebrations during Advent Worship services, the Spirit of the Tree will live in a new place and new way for the Douglas Christmas Tree. According to the Douglas Fourth of July Committee, the Douglas Christmas Tree Lighting will be held the Friday following Thanksgiving at the Pavilion at Savikko Park. The Spirit of Christmas is not to be found only in a sacrificed tree but in the sacrifice that Christ made on a tree. The Spirit continues through the work of those committed to carrying the Light of Life and Love that many of us find in the Spirit.
May the Spirit find its way into your heart and homes as we, together, celebrate the changing season and the approach of Advent.
• Roberts is the pastor at Douglas Community United Methodist Church