From Bethlehem to Calvary

Bethlehem to Calvary: A Christmas tree turned into a cross, on display outside of St. Peter Church in Merchantville, NJMy parish has many lovely traditions and displays, but one in particular struck me and continues to strike me every year. There is a wooden cross on display outside our church during Lent, and another inside. Both are handmade at our parish each year — from our Christmas trees.

At the top of the cross is the abbreviated sign: Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum; to the Jews: This is your king. Above that sign there is another, a reminder of what has been done while the wood is green, a reminder of the baby we worshiped in his manger bed not so long ago. To all of us: this is the Christ child.

It reminds us, too, that the parts of our faith are interconnected, that the stories we read and hear are one story.  They’re His story. (To say that history is “his story” is terrible etymology, but it’s wonderful theology.)

The road to Bethlehem we take in Advent turns, in Lent, inexorably toward Calvary. The Christmas tree points to the cross. The child born in the house of bread (“Bet Lehem”) offers bread become His Body. The baby laying in a feeding trough becomes our sacred food.

If we follow the star at Christmas, we must follow the cross in Lent. And if we follow the cross in Lent, we can, then, continue on to Easter. Like Christ — in Christ — we endure; we suffer with Him to rise with Him. The Christmas tree leads to the cross, but the cross leads to the empty tomb.

A blessed Triduum to all of you, and a Joy-filled Easter

About Joe Wetterling

Joe Wetterling is a catechist, blogger, and an adult educator with over fifteen years of experience. His interests include philosophy, adult learning, instructional technology, and stoytelling/teaching by analogy. Joe lives in Moorestown, NJ with his wife and son. You can find him online at and at his two blogs: Ho Kai Paulos ( and The Baptized Imagination (
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One Response to From Bethlehem to Calvary

  1. Thanks, Joe for this beautiful meditation on the two trees.

    A Blessed Easter!