In the days of Jesus, the palm tree was the symbol of Jewish identity and independence. Throughout the centuries, many Jewish and Christian leaders have used the metaphor of the tree to speak of a faith that looks to the future. Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, is considered to have said, “Even if I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree.”
Trees, of course, actually live much of their life underground. The roots go deep. And most of the vitality of the earth and the rain is drawn up through the roots into the living thing.
The same is true of the human spirit. The struggles we have, the unseen forces we wrestle with, the thoughts and ideas that give shape to our lives go largely unseen.
—Todd Outcalt, Let Us Go Now to Bethlehem: Daily Devotions for Advent and Christmas (Upper Room Books, 2020)
From what sources do you draw your strength? How deep are you willing to go to find new vitality in your spiritual life? Join the conversation.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
—Isaiah 11:1-2 (NRSVUE)
Prayer for the Week
Creator God, as you have made all things, I know you are still creating in me too. You are not finished working on me. Thank you for your patience throughout the seasons of my life, and I pray that I may offer beauty, comfort, relief, joy, and strength to those I encounter today. Help me to rely upon your counsel through all of the adversity of my life. Amen.
—Prayer by Todd Outcalt
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(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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