In both our front and back yards, we have trees – maples and cedars. They were planted by the first owners of our house ten years ago when the house was built. Already they are tall enough to provide a little shade for our lawn. Trees amaze me. They offer so many gifts beyond their cooling shade. They not only give back to the earth; they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out life giving oxygen. As a child, I learned that trees were my friends, especially one with a big low-lying branch that served as a doorway to my leafy playhouse, up high above my world. Today I am grateful for our trees, even though none are big enough yet for climbing.
Planting trees is a sign of hope for the future. In today’s world, their slow growth means that the planter may not be around to enjoy the tree’s blessings. I think of education as a planting trees. High school youth can become impatient with school. What use is this? When will it be over? Do I really want to do this homework? Especially today when the world is so chaotic, job insecurity is an epidemic. Post- secondary education is a monumental expense, yet education is also a sign of hope for the future.
Living a life of faith is a sign of hope for the future of our world. It’s easy to say, “Why bother? God doesn’t care.” I believe that God does care. In the Bible we read about the prophet, Jeremiah. War was raging around him. His own king had imprisoned him for speaking out about his own people’s behavior. Jeremiah had warned his king that linking up with Egypt would not save the country from the Babylonians. From prison, Jeremiah listens to God’s message, “Buy land in your hometown. There is a future for you and your people. The day will come when you will prosper again.” And so Jeremiah makes the purchase. (paraphrase of Jeremiah 32:8-15)
Living a life of faith today means that we, too, are called to speak out about climate change, justice issues, and God’s promises. We too are called to take action, to make room for people different from ourselves, to feed the hungry, to get our education, to plant trees for the future. We are called to be like Jeremiah, and invest our lives for our future and the future of the world. We are called to trust in God’s promise for a new world filled with love and justice and joy. Yes, like our trees, the world’s growth towards goodness for all is slow. Although very slow, that growth is happening. Already, there are small patches of shade here and there around the world. Already there is food for some, freedom for some, peace for some. We can step out in faith and add goodness to God’s world. Each loving act, each step for justice, each gift of loving mercy for ourselves and others makes a difference. We can be God’s blessed trees, a breath of new life in this world.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Today’s Faith By Rev. Janet Stobie