Over the last few days we have focused on the life that God has loved us into – pictured for us in Scripture as the river of life. In the next few days these reflections will focus on the community that this life produces, a community that is learning to live in love – pictured for us as a tree.
In the creation story, the tree of life was placed in the centre of the garden of Eden. By the time we reach Isaiah, it has become what is called ‘the stump of Jesse.’ This speaks of Jesus, how he was cut down in life – stripped, beaten and crucified. The root of this tree is therefore his sacrificial and unconditional love for us and for the entire world shown supremely at the cross. It speaks also of his incarnation – where he clothed himself in a human body, travelled from a perfect place to a broken world, rolled up his sleeves and loved people in tangible expressions of mercy and compassion, in real ways and not just with kind words. It is heaven come on earth in a person – Jesus. This story of the gospel, the story of the love made real in God come to earth as a man, and dying for us on the cross, is therefore at the very root and core of this tree. Without this, the tree would be powerless. And on to this root branches are grafted – you and I are grafted into Christ and become one with him. We share the same sap and the same root. The same life and love! The tree therefore speaks of a loving community created by his life and love.
Jesus, thank you for your love. Thank you that you came from heaven to earth. Thank you for dying for us on the cross. You are at the root and centre of our community. Help us to learn to love like you did – in real, unconditional and sacrificial ways. Amen.