In a few days, Canada will be celebrating its birthday. July 1st is Canada Day, a holiday on which we have parties, set off fireworks, and wave the flag.
We’re all attached to our national flags, aren’t we? Each is beautiful in its own way. Some flags have blocks of colour, some feature significant symbols, others have patterns of stars and stripes. A handful of countries depict plants or trees on their flags, mine among them.
Canada’s flag has a maple leaf at its centre. In fact, the nickname for our flag is the Maple Leaf. As a nature lover, I’m proud to have a symbol of a plant on my national flag, and especially pleased that it’s a leaf from one of my favourite trees.
Growing up, I loved maple trees: I climbed them, enjoyed the sugar and fudge made from their sap, collected their red and orange leaves in autumn to press and even jumped into raked-up piles of them.
I’d venture to say that all Canadians love maple trees. The trees themselves are beautiful and stately; the wood harvested from them is so strong it can be used as the flooring for bowling alleys; we harvest precious sap from them to make sought-after products; and the leaves turn gorgeous colours in the autumn.
The maple leaf is the emblem of Canada. It symbolizes who we are as a people: hardy, strong, nature-loving northerners.
Just as the maple tree is important to Canadians, there’s another tree which is very important to a certain group of people:
It’s the tree Christ was crucified on.
We don’t know what wood was used to construct the Cross. Perhaps the Romans used easily found wood such as olive, which was abundant in the area. The Bible doesn’t indicate which specific tree provided the wood for the Cross, and in one sense it doesn’t really matter.
The important thing is what the Cross represents: when Christians wear a cross, we’re saying something about who we are as a people.
We’re those who have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and have received forgiveness for our sins. We’re those who have become part of the family of God. We’re those who try to follow Christ’s example and live out His teachings.
The Cross is our emblem and our inspiration, a sign of the extraordinary lengths our loving God went to in order to reconcile fallen humanity back to Him. There’s no more powerful symbol in human history than the Cross.
Every time a Canadian sees the maple emblem on our flag, we’re reminded of our country and what we love about it.
Likewise, every time Christians see a depiction of the Cross, we’re reminded of the wooden one Christ died on two millennia ago and of His unfathomable love for us!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.