Friday, December 13, 2019

Third Sunday of Advent Devotional

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it!
For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.  Isaiah 44:23

Sing like the Trees

We think of language as a system of words and grammar to convey information but, fundamentally, it is a way to communicate with someone else. We exchange messages through body language, facial expressions, and actions. We communicate our identities through the clothing we wear and the way we spend our time. With all of these ways of “speaking,” should we be surprised to learn that nearly all living things do this in some form or another?

The trees in a forest are in constant communication with their neighbors, sending signals through the air and underground. Whether it’s releasing a warning message from a deer-browsed leaf or sending nutrients through complex root systems, trees benefit from the voices of those around them. A young plant limited by shade has the best chance of survival if it grows up near an older tree of the same species, which provides extra sugar through underground channels. The importance of community to a forest ecosystem is staggering, yet all too familiar.  

During this Advent season, think of yourself as a tree in a vast forest and ask what your role would be.  Are you a tall tree, bathed in light? If so, reflect on how to share the fruits of that blessing with those coming after you. If you are a young tree struggling to feel that warmth, what can you do to open yourself up to receive the gifts of others? Do you know how to ask? God wants us to use our voices to proclaim His glory, just as He commands the rest of the life He so lovingly created.

Life-Giving God, may we learn how to praise you by following the examples of the plants that already nourish us in so many ways—plants that continue to perform the duties for which you created them, even as they face a rapidly changing world. May we be eager to share our blessings with others and be humble enough to receive your Word at all times. Amen.

Ryan Jiorle was born and raised in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. Through his schooling and career, he moved around various Southern states before returning home to northwest New Jersey. Along the way, Ryan has led Bible studies on the intersection of environmental stewardship and our call as Christians.

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