Luke 21: 29-31
“Then he told them a parable: ‘Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near.’ ”
All Earth Is Waiting, verse 1
“All earth is waiting to see the Promised One, and the open furrows, the sowing of the Lord. All the world, bound and struggling, seeks true liberty; it cries out for justice and searches for the truth.”
In late February in Palestine, the sprouting of buds on the fig trees and the flowering of pink blossoms on the almond trees announce the advent of spring. It is a physical promise of abundance, of a fruitful and prosperous future. For millennia a fig tree was often planted at the entrance to a village or along a road well-traveled. It is still considered a “common tree,” and is understood that these trees belong to no one, that anyone is welcome to eat from the fruits of this fig tree in order to share in God’s gifts and sustain oneself for the journey ahead. In an environment based on agriculture where the people are one with the land, it is easy to understand when it is said, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows…” (Mark 4:26-27).
The season of Advent is like the blossoming of the fig and the almond trees; a time of promise and anticipation, a time of encouragement for a future that will be abundant and sustainable. Advent, “the coming or approach,” gives us time to reflect on the coming of the birth of Jesus and the kingdom of God on Earth so that we can be prepared to do God’s will, to follow the message of Jesus through his parables and teachings, to follow Jesus’ command to seek this Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Advent is a time to remember what Jesus tells us in John 10:10; “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” and to know that God’s abundance is reborn in each budding tree and in each new day.
As we await the celebration of the birth of our Lord, let us remember that we are also called to share that abundance with others; to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to do all we can to let the oppressed be free.
Generous and loving God, during this time of Advent we thank you for this opportunity to reflect on the importance of the birth of your son, Jesus Emanuel, God with us, and the gift of your presence among us. We ask that you help us to follow the teachings of Christ, to remember to share your bounty with others, and to do your will in all things so that we may know the Kingdom of God.
29 November written by Janet Lahr Lewis, Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East, GBGM, and Peace with Justice Program Associate, GBCS. She formerly served as a GBGM missionary in 2001 in two positions and then as the Methodist Liaison in Palestine and Israel from 2006 to 2014.
All photographs taken by Rev. Kristen L. Brown.