The Changing Tree
Here is a way of using the same tree to celebrate Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Holy Week and Easter.
All templates for the items to be hung on the tree can be found in the How to Make section of the book (see How to Make).
A Christmas tree that does not drop its needles is best for this.
A tree is brought into the church at the beginning of Advent for the Advent carol service and stands undecorated for the weeks of Advent.
If the opportunity arises people can write prayers on star-shaped cards and hang them on the tree through Advent.
If there are any school events taking place in church before the end of term and during Advent the tree can be decorated with plain or star-shaped white lights.
The Nativity figures are added to the tree on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (Mary, Joseph, the crib, a star and lots of angels) plus silver baubles.
The Sunday after Christmas Day the shepherds and sheep are added with more angels.
At Epiphany the wise men (crowns) and camels are added, along with gold baubles.
At the Baptism of Christ jugs to represent water and doves to represent the Holy Spirit are added.
At Candlemas we turn away from Christmas towards Lent and Easter. Before the service all the decorations on the Christmas tree are taken off and the lights and baubles put away. All the branches are cut off as close to the trunk as possible. Once the trunk is stripped of all the branches a cut is made almost right through the trunk about two thirds of the way along. Do not cut right through the trunk at this stage. (This is done to make the cutting through easier when it is done during the Candlemas service.) Stand the trunk up somewhere in church. Just before the end of the Candlemas service take the trunk to the front of the church and, in front of the congregation, make the final cut through the trunk. Take the short piece and fix it with rope across the larger length of trunk, so making a cross. At the end of the service carry the newly-made cross down the aisle and place it near the door. For the final prayers in the service everyone turns towards the cross so demonstrating that we are turning away from Christmas towards Lent, Holy Week and Easter.
During Holy Week the Christmas tree trunk cross can be placed somewhere prominent, maybe in the place where the stable is for Christmas. As the story of Holy Week unfolds make it a feature in the church. For Maundy Thursday place Last Supper items at the foot of the cross (a bowl for washing hands, bread and wine, a bag of money, a lantern and plants to represent a garden). On Good Friday add a hammer, nails, a cockerel and a piece of fabric torn in two. Place a crown of thorns on the top of the cross.
For Easter day decorate the tree cross with flowers, butterflies and dragonflies as symbols of resurrection. The tree becomes a thing of celebration again.