by Rodger Nishioka
For a child has been born to us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Death Valley on the California-Nevada border is the hottest and driest place in North America. But every decade or so, something magical happens: the valley explodes with color as thousands of native plants come to life. This rare phenomenon is called a “super bloom” and it is the result of another rare occurrence, the coming of rain. In October 2015, three separate rainstorms fell on Death Valley. The parched, dry land soaked up that rain and in an instant it was gone. Yet those rains were enough to spur the bloom of thousands of desert sunflowers and other plants six months later. In March of this year, the barren land gave way to brilliant color. “It is the most amazing thing,” commented one of the park rangers. “These flowers lay dormant for years waiting for even the hint of moisture. Then when it comes, wow!”
That same scenario plays itself out every year for us. Every year we enter the Advent season waiting. Some years we are in a desolate and desperate place, and we are more dry and parched than ever. Some years we are in a more contented place and our anticipation of Christmas takes on a different way of being. Still, the advent season is about waiting and anticipation. And not unlike the wildflower seeds waiting in the desert soil of Death Valley, the good news that God has been born in Jesus Christ reminds us all of God’s faithfulness and love for the creation. When that good news reaches us, we spring forth with color and wonder and joy and hope. Christmas Day has come! And like the park ranger, all we can say is “Wow!”
Rodger Nishioka serves as the Director of Adult Educational Ministries at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS, and is grateful to work with the congregation’s Environmental Action committee.