[#pictureAdvent] December 5: PLANTS

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By Jack Ladd
Gray Memorial UMC
Tallahassee, Florida

First, read Isaiah 40:5-8

“The grass withers and the flower fades” is not exactly a hopeful statement. Every gardener knows that there is potential for their work to be in vain. All of the tilling, the fertilizing, the watering, and care that goes into planting can be for not. Those who appreciate the environment for its beauty and contribution to life know how fragile plant life is. This statement, though, rings true: the grass withers and the flower fades, and so does human life. 

In the Western United States, trees and forests are dying at alarming rates. One of the areas that are most devastated is the Pacific Crest Trail which runs the length of the coast: 2660 miles up California, Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia.

The forests are dying in part due to human emission of gases from our cars and plants, but also due to droughts and insects that thrive in dry weather. The effects of this crisis is affecting more than the forest itself; it is affecting human life.

The appeal of visiting these forests along the trail is dropping, so nearby towns have suffering economies that are less able to support inhabitants like they used to. These areas are becoming more at risk of fires, and when there are fires, they spread faster since the forests are drier.

The Northwest portion of the United States experienced dozens of fires this summer, putting human life and plant life in extreme danger. They were extremely destructive. I even saw smoke building up and sitting in mountain valleys from these fires hundreds of miles away. This sitting smoke spread throughout hundreds of miles in Montana made the wildlife stay at more elevated locations to stay cool and feed off greener vegetation.

The cause and effect of plant life is wide and vast. The fragility of plant life is apparent in this area around the Pacific Crest Trail. And it is so with human life … we are fragile, we wither, we get sick, we disconnect from each other, from God.

Unlike humans or plants: “the Word of our God stands forever.” The Word of God-unlike words on a page or words uttered out of our mouths, are eternal. The gospel of John says that “in the beginning was the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” If the Word was God and is God, surely it never withers or fades like plants do. 

And so, in this Advent season, you may feel like you are fading and withering away. But you are a child of God. God loves you. The Word of God is in you. And so God, the creator of all life—albeit human or plant life—lives in you. The Word of God stands forever.

Loving and merciful God, we thank you for this beautiful earth that we get to live in. Give us the eyes to see it in its beauty and protect it. Thank you for loving us and instilling in us the very Word of life. Where we feel like we are withering and fading, sustain us once again, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever put so much work into a garden, only to find the plants wither and fade no matter what?
  2. Have you or someone you’ve known ever planted anything that just seemed to grow on its own?
  3. What is the Word of God? The Bible? Love? Jesus?
  4. What does it mean for the Word of God to stand forever?