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musings from linda 2/23/24


Is there any more enticing sight than a tree loaded with juicy, bright red apples?  Indeed, the image below — an “inspiration drawing” (1854) from a Shaker woman named Hannah Cohoon — has become an iconic symbol of the “tree of life.” 

 

An ancient, sacred and universal symbol of growth strength and connectedness, the TREE OF LIFE  links heaven, earth and all that lies beneath the earth.  It represents wisdom, power, love and HOPE — for as the branches grow in strength from their deep rootedness, they produce fruit which gives life to the generations. 


Theologians throughout history have suggested that the tree of life is a symbolic description of JESUS himself.  Deeply rooted in the love of God, Jesus  is a constant source of nourishment for our souls, providing healing for our weary spirits, filling us up with loving energy to take into our own daily living… 

 

Maybe that is the reason  that I instantly loved the  APPLE TREE CAROL  (“Jesus Christ, The Apple Tree”) the very first time I heard it!  The text first appeared in this country in a hymnal compiled in 1784 by Joshua Smith, a Baptist lay minister in New Hampshire.  Then, two centuries later, British composer Elizabeth Poston arranged it as heard here (click here to listen now — and join us on Sunday to hear our choir sing it!).  

 

As you listen, you might picture yourself seated under a beautiful apple tree — invited to spend a few moments with Jesus. 


Allow these words to sink into your spirit ….


     “The tree of life my soul hath seen, laden with fruit and always green

      The trees of nature fruitless be — compared with Christ, the apple tree.  

 

      His beauty doth all things excel; by faith I know, but ne’er can tell 

      The glory which I now can see in Jesus Christ, the apple tree.     



For happiness I long have sought and pleasure dearly I have bought 

      I missed of all, but now I see ‘tis found in Christ the apple tree.

    

      I’m weary with my former toil  — here I will sit — and rest — awhile…

      Under the shadow I will be of Jesus Christ, the apple tree. 

 

      This fruit doth make my soul to thrive, it keeps my dying faith alive; 

      Which makes my soul in haste to be with Jesus Christ, the apple tree.“

 

 So very beautiful… all of it… 


But the best part comes in the last verse. 

 

We can take time to sit, to reflect and rest and admire the tree — and that’s all lovely…

         BUT —

the moment of transformation comes when we actually TASTE the fruit of the tree —  when we truly soak in Jesus’ incredible message of God’s love —  allowing it to become a part of our very being… 

It is then that that we are truly “WITH” Jesus Christ the apple tree as the final line suggests… and BECOME  branches on the tree ourselves…! 

 

   “I am the vine, you are the branches.  

             If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; 

                       apart from me you can do nothing…”  (John 15:5) 


When we are a part of the Jesus tree, we are connected to Love at its Source — empowered to become Love too! 

 

John continues in verse 16  — 

 

“I chose YOU — and appointed YOU — so that you might go and bear fruit! —  Fruit that will last… THIS is my command:  

 

LOVE ONE ANOTHER“

 

Amen. 

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