California’s Central Valley is home to some of the most fertile soil on earth. In fact, most of the fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products we enjoy come from this region. Sadly, this beautiful valley is suffering from a long-term drought that is parching the land, drying up trees, and turning this oasis into a desert. The drought has affected the people who live in the valley with high unemployment rates and widespread poverty in rural areas. There is a great need for revival to bring hope to the land and people.
During the season of Advent, many of us look for hope and renewal. Perhaps you are feeling parched and longing for the streams of living water that only Jesus can bring. This passage in Isaiah reminds us that God is able to bring flourishing and abundance even to the most arid parts of our lives and communities. The prophet uses the imagery of a crocus, a pretty flower able to bloom in early spring even when there is still snow on the ground.
Isaiah promises a flower will bloom in a hostile place. Jesus fulfills the prophesy, blooming in the desert after 40 days of being tempted by the devil. He blooms for those in the desert of society—people who are marginalized, exiled, or forgotten. Ultimately, Jesus blooms for us as the resurrected Christ, reconciling us to God through his death on the cross, the most hostile place of all.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we also are called to bloom just as Jesus did. How do we do that? We make disciples and plant churches. Every disciple we make and every church we plant is a spot of beauty for the kingdom of God. A field of crocuses in a hostile wilderness.
Prayer: Jesus, you came and we were restored, reconciled, redeemed. Cause us to bloom wherever you plant us, reclaiming hostile ground for the kingdom of God.
Nic Pope is pastor of Sequoia Community Church in Fresno, California. The 2016 Advent devotions were written by RCA church planters and parent churches.
The Advent devotions follow the Common Lectionary texts. You may use the devotions in a number of ways, but you are encouraged to do the following:
Read the passage through at least once. (Each devotion includes a link to the Scripture passage for the day.)
Reflect on the passage and pay attention to how God might be using it to speak to you.
Read and consider the devotion.
End in prayer. You may begin with the prayer offered at the end of each devotion or pray your own prayer.