November 27, 2012

Evergreen Advent

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV)

In the dead of winter, Violet Cemetery, near Goshen College, is one of the more beautiful places to go for a walk. All is quiet, so quiet, you can hear the icicles creak, glassy pins dropping to the snow-white comforter below. The billowy quilt spreads out across the ground, around every trunk, flung carelessly over gray tombstones as if to warm every grave. Only one color imposes itself against the backdrop of this study in contrasts. Small fir trees dot green across the white quilted ground like so many comforter knots, reminders that Mother root is still very much alive, gently tossing and turning beneath her frozen covers.

Should it be any wonder that imaginative human beings for thousands of years have seen something profoundly meaningful in trees that can stay green in the dead of winter and be chopped down and grow new shoots?

Jeremiah uses the lesson of a tree branch to teach an early Advent lesson. He tells of a future time when the stump of Judah, cut down and carted into Exile, would sprout again as a “righteous branch.” The New Testament writers saw this promised branch to be none other than Jesus Christ, Tree of Life, cut down, buried in a wintery grave, aborning life three days later.

When we enter the bleak mid-winters of our lives, let us look to the Tannenbaum, the fir tree, gracing the snow-covered gravestone and know that resurrection life is near at hand. In this season of Advent, at the height of the winter solstice, even as the days are shorter and the nights are colder, may we behold in every evergreen tree, a Christmas tree, our advent sign of hope.

SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NRSV)
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil 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.’



Comments (18)

  1. Inspiring!! Reminds me of ice on the winshield.

    Mary K. Mishler November 27, 2012 |
  2. Inspiring Good to ponder early in the morning.

    Mary K. Mishler November 27, 2012 |
  3. Thanks for bringing my mind to focus on things that matter. Flo Harnish

    Flo Harnish November 27, 2012 |
  4. In this bleak-mid winter time in my life, this grief journey I am traveling without my soulmate Virg,I am truly grateful for the advent sign of hope! Thanks for your well written devotional.

    Mary Ann Miller November 27, 2012 |
  5. Good morning all! Due to feedback from our readers, we will be changing the formatting of the email you receive each morning with the devotion. It will now include the full text of the devotion. We value your feedback and want to provide a service that is meaningful and helpful to you. Keep in touch. — Goshen College devotions editor Jodi Beyeler

    Jodi Beyeler November 27, 2012 |
  6. Great to open my email today and see the Advent devotional from Goshen. Thank you for this ministry and its reminder of the season of preparation for Christmas.

    Tony Walsh, National University of Ireland, Maynooth November 27, 2012 |
  7. This article caused me to look back and see not only where God has brought me from but it provided more of a confirmation of where He is taking me to as promised.
    Thank you for such vivid and detailed descriptions of our life’s seasons.

    Margaret E. Dyson November 27, 2012 |
  8. I would appreciate the full text to be included with the devotional. That way I can file them easier in a computer file. Could you resend the e-mails? Thank you.

    Doreen November 27, 2012 |
    • Hi Doreen! Thank you for your feedback! Though we won’t be resending prior devotions, we have changed the way the emails are sent so that they now include the full-text of the devotion and Scripture. We hope this is more helpful to readers. Blessings and peace! -Jodi Beyeler, Goshen College Advent devotions editor

      Jodi Beyeler November 28, 2012 |
  9. Here is Fiji there is no snowy winter ..but the frangipani boom – from strange bare branches there is an explosion of star-like flowers reminding me tthat God can do the unexpected – they are signs of hope, Thank you for the poetry for it opens eyes and hearts.

    Sue Halapua November 27, 2012 |
  10. Hey. This was a winter treat! It’s snowing outside today, so a perfect complement! Evergreens are used as a symbol this season of Advent. Of life affirmed. Waiting…

    Debbie Lackowitz November 27, 2012 |
  11. What a wonderfully colorful and beautiful reflection on Advent. I appreciate being reminded once again that He is coming – coming to hearts that will receive him.

    Sandra November 27, 2012 |
  12. Thanks for your beautiful pictures and message.

    Diana Thomas November 27, 2012 |
  13. I am enjoying your devotions which I find very thoughtful. I would like to ask though when does Advent start in the US?. Here in the UK it won’t start until Sunday 2nd December, 2012 so I feel a little out of synch when I’m reading your posts. I look forward to hearing from you.


    Annette November 27, 2012 |
    • Good question Annette! You are right that Advent begins on Dec. 2, this coming Sunday, in the United States as well. The reason that we begin our Advent devotions the Monday before is because they always relate to the coming Sunday’s lectionary. They are to prepare you for Sunday, rather than be looking back. If we waited to start until next Monday, we would lose Week 1 of Advent. — Goshen College devotions editor Jodi Beyeler

      Jodi Beyeler November 28, 2012 |
  14. In the intense tropical heat of ‘down under’ the image is no less profound. Hope is at the core of our faith and evergreen trees speak to us of Ps 1 as well. Thank you for your gift to us each year.

    ANNETTE BAILEY November 27, 2012 |
  15. Thank you for connecting Jesus’ birth with his resurrection, the start of the story with its endlessness. These reflections are a blessed gift.

    Helen Deines November 27, 2012 |
  16. Dear Dr. Jim, Thank you for your message of Hope. The future is green and colourful if we see with the eyes of faith.
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet November 28, 2012 |