It wasn’t too long ago that the massive Pin Oak tree outside my church office window was green and full of life. It gave shade to the birds who built their nest on one of the tallest branches. It shaded my window from the early morning sun and taught every person who passed by lessons about longevity and strength by the circumference of its trunk.
I’ve been watching this Pin Oak tree as the seasons have changed from summer to fall and soon fall will soon change into winter. The green leaves turned a bright and crisp yellow and hung on the tree for weeks. They’ve now turned to brown and cover the dormant grass below. The tree is preparing itself for the snowfall of winter so that it might be ready to bloom again in the spring.
I was thinking about this Pin Oak tree this week as we’ve been preparing our home for the Thanksgiving holiday. The dusting and cleaning, the straightening up and cooking have all followed the pattern set by the big tree outside my window, we’ve been getting rid of some old things so that something better might come.
And so it is in the church I serve. The next time our people enter our sanctuary it will be decorated for the Advent and Christmas seasons. There will be a Christmas tree on the west side; lights will be strung from the choir lofts. The Welcome Center and Narthex will have garland and greenery. Our church will be ready for the coming season.
This Sunday we will celebrate the First Sunday in Advent and through the scriptures we will hear the message in the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist; we’ll hear it in Mary and Elizabeth until we finally meet the newborn Christ on Christmas Eve. This message will remind us how Christ was born in Bethlehem centuries ago to teach us about God’s love and how he comes to us even today to love us and lead us to life. We will prepare the way for Jesus to come again.
So in all of our preparations this week, as we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones, in the midst of the dusting and cleaning, the straightening up and cooking, may we take our cues from the big Pin Oak outside my window. Let us prepare for something wonderful to come. Not just in turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce, but also in Christ’s love for us, born again this holiday season.