Nov. 24: Advent Branch
According to an ancient Jewish midrash, someone asked Rabbi Joshua, “Why did God speak to Moses from a bush?” Rabbi Joshua replied, “God spoke from a bush to teach that there is no place where the Divine is not present, not even in a lowly bush.”
God speaks from trees? Jeremiah uses the lesson of a tree branch to preach an early Advent sermon. He tells of a future time when God’s promise of salvation and safety to God’s people will come to pass. A “righteous Branch” will come from the house of David, he says, “to execute justice and righteousness in the land.” The New Testament church saw this promised Branch to be none other than Jesus Christ.
It was Jesus who later likened the kingdom of God to a tree in whose branches birds flee for safety. And another time Jesus invites his disciples to look at the fig tree and other trees to see in the changing of the seasons the signs of death and resurrection happening right before their eyes.
A Hasidic story tells of a rabbi’s son who used to wander in the woods. The rabbi asked his son, “I wonder why each day you walk in the woods?” The boy replied, “I go there to find God.” “That’s very good, son. But, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?” “Yes,” the boy answered, “but I’m not.”
And so it is with us. We need tangible signs of God’s presence. When we enter the emotional, spiritual and physical winters of our lives, no matter the reason, let us eagerly anticipate that day when a new branch will burst forth from the leafless icicled branch we have become? In this Advent season, may all trees be for us Christ-mas trees, signs of hope, worthy of our decorating and celebrating – Christ, the Righteous Branch, has come into our lives, Christ will come again.
SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV)
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’