December 20, 2015

A Flourishing Juniper

Hosea 14:4-9

“I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.”

—  Hosea 14:8

Christmas trees were not allowed in the churches I grew up in, even though most families had trees in their homes. I am not sure this was ever fully explained, but people feared that a Christmas tree might draw atten­tion away from Jesus.

Where we find “juniper” in our verse for today, some Bible versions use the words “green fir-tree,” which may make us think of a Christmas tree.

Years ago some church leaders warned against the use of evergreen trees as Christmas decorations because people from ancient times used and revered trees, especially evergreens, in their worship of false gods. Such gods were believed to promise life and prosperity but were not easily satisfied.

That might sound familiar in our Christmas preparations too. Every year our traditions, habits, and “must haves” seem to ask more of us. But no matter how much we spend, the well-being we long for remains out of reach.

When God said, “I am like a green fir-tree,” he declared that he is the source of the life people were looking for. He says, “Your fruitfulness comes from me.” So when we consider the celebration of Christmas this year, may we remember that Jesus said not to worry but to seek God’s kingdom above all things (see Matthew 6:25-34).

Provider God, you feed the birds of the air and clothe the flowers of the field. Teach us that our work and worry do us no good. It’s your blessing that gives life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Norman Visser

Norman Visser has served as a pastor of churches in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and South Dakota. He states that while he is “not known for waiting patiently,” he is “working on it.” Norman and his wife, Marcia, have three children.

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