Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Day Devotional

Christmas Day…  Sheltering in place

For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my spirit upon your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring.
They shall spring up like a green tamarisk,
like willows by flowing streams. Isaiah 44:3-4

“Bloom where you are planted” is an old saying that sounds almost biblical, but it is not. It was coined by a saint of the church, Saint Francis de Sales. The intention was to say, happy or not with your place in the world, keep being a disciple of Christ and growing in faith. But it begs the question, “Am I planted in the right place?” and “Is it possible to be the right person in the wrong place?”

A tamarisk tree in Israel
Our scripture for the day leads us to the same question when we ask about the tamarisk plant. In the holy land the tamarisk shelters streams, provides shade and conserves water. They can survive in soils with high salt content and create a natural cooling effect by pulling water from the air at night and then releasing it in the day. In the holy land it is a useful native plant. But ask someone from the southwestern United States and they will tell you a different story. Someone thought the tamarisk would be a useful plant so it was transplanted and now it is spreading like a destructive wild fire, destroying water resources and pushing out native plants. It is an environmental disaster.  Right plant in the wrong place.

So how do you know if you are a tamarisk in the holy land or in the southwest? Ask one of these questions:
  1. When I grow in faith and step out in courage, do I make room for others or do I take up space that is better used by others?
  2. When I dig in deep and spread my roots is there enough water, energy, space and time for growth to occur and for me to share with others in my community?
  3. Am I creating life in others or am I pushing others out of community?
This day we celebrate the expected one who was placed in what many considered to be the wrong place. Not a king born in a palace crib but a tiny child placed in a manger. What was so wrong turned out to be just right… he stepped out of that crib into the center of life, personal, social, political, spiritual. In all ways things making God’s presence known in new and courageous ways.

This day, as we celebrate again the coming of “God with Us,” the Christ, consider where you are planted and the effect you have on your environment and on your community.  Are you planted in the right place to bloom or is it so wrong it is made right by the glory and compassion of God.

Loving Creator, you know us so well. Show me ways to be a better partner in community so that we all may bloom together and find ways daily to honor Emmanuel.  Amen.

Barbara Chalfant is currently the Associate for Mission for the Presbytery of West Virginia. Her responsibilities include ministry to older adults, peacemaking, social justice, hunger action and disaster response.  She is a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary, a certified educator and holds a certificate in older adult ministry from Columbia Seminary. She has served congregations in Virginia, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. She is a curriculum writer, artist, singer, and is prone to bouts of laughter. Having seen the direct effects of bad environmental stewardship as she works in disaster ravaged communities, Barbara has become proactive concerning environmental issues, human caused disaster and damage, and working to reverse climate change. 

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