Volume 33, No. 23
Growing Deep Roots
In this Advent season, we are doing the work of Christmas. And the work we must do comes from a powerful poem written by the Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman. In this poem, as outlined in the previous issue of the Mosaic and my sermon from Advent 1, “The Work of Christmas Begins,” Thurman speaks of the importance of bringing vitality and peace to those who are oppressed and those in need. Thurman encourages a Christmas spirit to flow through our lives and through this world every single day of the year, not simply at Christmas. And in order to bring the good news of Christ to a hurting people and do the work of Christmas, we must grow deep roots into the faithfulness and justice of God.
Dr. Thurman tells a story of growing our roots deep so as to remain strong when the world changes around and us and life gets difficult. He talks about reading an interesting account in the National Geographic Magazine concerning certain trees found growing in the Sahara Desert. The trees were not part of any oasis but stood alone in the midst of the heat and wind without obvious moisture. It seems that hundreds of years ago what is now the desert was rich and luxurious growth. As the desert appeared, the vegetation was destroyed until at last there was nothing left of the past glory except an oasis scattered here and there. But not all; for there were a few trees that had sent their roots so far down into the heart of the earth in search of moisture and food that they discovered deep rivers flowing full of concentrated nutrients. Here the roots were fed so effectively that the trees far above on the surface were able to stand anything that happened to them at the hands of the desert heat and the blowing sand.
This is the secret to those whose lives are fed by the deep inner resources of God. To people who are sure of God’s love, divine wisdom and strength become the answer to life’s greatest demands, and indeed, to its most searching and withering changes. It is my hope as we do the work of Christmas this Advent season, we will grow our roots deep into the words of God, bring freedom to those who are burdened, and remain in fervent and transformative prayer. The world may be tumultuous and violent around us, but we will stand firm in the sustenance of God and in the power of the life-changing work of Christmas.