The Season of Advent
“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. . .”
(Isaiah 11:1-2, NIV)
The Season of Advent makes me think about a children’s story, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. The story is a tale about a relationship between a young boy and a tree in the forest. The tree provides the boy what he wants throughout his life.
As a young child, the boy gathers the tree’s leaves on mild autumn afternoons. He fashions them into a crown for his head and plays king of the forest. The tree is fun to climb and he loves to eat its delicious apples. The boy enjoys swinging from the tree’s branches and discovers a shady resting place beneath those same branches on hot days.
As the boy becomes a teenager, he visits the tree less frequently. He stops by to carve his initials, and those of his girlfriend, on the apple tree’s trunk, framing them with a heart. As the boy matures and his interests change, he finds he needs some spending money. He picks the tree’s luscious apples and sells them at the farmer’s market in town.
As an adult, he cuts off many of the tree’s branches to provide lumber for his young family’s new home. During his middle years, he finds himself with leisure time and cuts down the tree’s trunk to fashion a sailboat’s hull. Where a magnificent tree had once stood, spreading its leafy branches toward the heavens, all that remains is a stump. In his final days, the boy, now an old man, returns to the remaining stump to sit and rest his weary bones and to reminisce of days gone by.
But that stump is not the end of the memorable tree. From a stump that seemed long dead, new shoots spring to life and become a tree again. The story reminds us that God makes all things new. Even an old stump can be reborn into a tree tomorrow. Even a Savior can enter our hearts and live in the form of a baby.
As we stand at the threshold of a new church year during the Season of Advent, we find ourselves waiting again for the Christ Child to come alive in our hearts once again. We experience darkness all around us. We yearn for new life and a message of hope. We know this season has the capacity to bring forth the new beginnings we desire.
As we journey forward then, might we remain open to the sights and sounds around us! As we hear the words of those like the prophets, angels, and shepherds, might our hearts be open to a life-giving message that can change us forever!
A Thousand Blessings to each of You! Scott