The New Year of Trees
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
Sunlight is returning to the northern hemisphere, and in the next few weeks and months, life will begin to change around us. In a few weeks, our Jewish friends are celebrating Tu B'Shvat – the new year of the trees. This moment in the year marks the renewal of all life as the trees, beneath their bark and unseen by human eyes, begin to come back to life. We won't see buds or leaves for several months, but they have already begun their process of returning to vibrant, visible life. Even in the deep stillness of winter, life is always working to renew and sustain itself, whether or not we can see it.
These first verses of the Gospel of John indicate a way of seeing Jesus in a similar way. Though we've just celebrated the human birth of Jesus, John gives us an image of Christ as predating all time and emanating throughout time. At Christmas, we mark a specific birth, a special moment of proximity between human and the Divine, yet we profess that Christ is more than a single human in a single lifetime. Some scholars refer to Christ as an impulse rather than a person. To them, Christ is a very specific impulse of God - an impulse toward life and healing and wholeness, that has existed since the beginning of the beginning, an impulse which makes itself known to us throughout time and in all places. Christ is God's impulse of new and renewed life, working throughout the history of all creation – including our own lives – to quicken God's dance of love and light in the world.
Prayer: God of light and life, attune our eyes, ears, and hearts in this new year to sense Christ in us and around us – to sense your healing and life-giving impulse in us and around us. May we know your life stirring in us, as it is now stirring in the trees. Amen.