A reflection for Advent from Creation Justice Ministries, of which the Church of the Brethren is a member denomination:
This December, on the West Lawn of the Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C., stands the 2023 Capitol Christmas Tree. Every year since 1964, this site has been home to “The People’s Tree,” cut down in one of our National Forests and carted to the seat of legislative power to be adorned with lights and ornaments.
This year’s tree comes from Monongahela National Forest in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. While the People’s Tree makes its way from town to town on its tour to Washington, D.C., its old-growth arboreal neighbors in the forest are at risk of being harvested for timber.
The Monongahela National Forest is also home to the Upper Cheat River Project, a planned timber harvest through the US Forest Service that would clear cut 3,463 acres of tree stands, many of which are more than 100 years old.
This Christmas season, when many of us host trees in our homes, is an appropriate time to reflect not only on the services trees provide, but on their witness to incarnation. Christmas is a time to remember the message of the incarnation: that the world matters enough for God to become flesh and join us creatures.
The incarnation is good news for all of creation because it is only through Christ that all things come into being and are held together in love (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). In Jesus’ birth story itself, from the cosmos to the stable, creation sings and witnesses the good news of the incarnate Christ. It is not hard to imagine the old-growth trees themselves clapping their hands on the night of the birth of the Savior.
In the glow of the Christmas tree lights, from the Capitol lawn to our own homes, let us remember that the very forests that birthed this symbol of hope and joy are facing a perilous future. The People’s Tree and its home near the threatened Upper Cheat River Project underscores the urgency for the US Forest Service to safeguard these ancient giants that witness not only to the resilience of creation, but to incarnation itself.
Join us this Advent Season in taking action that witnesses to the radical nature of the incarnation. Join us, using the actions and resources below, in the work of protecting the world where God chose to dwell.
Resources for Advent from Creation Justice Ministries:
— The Action Alert to contact President Biden in support of America’s forests this Christmas is at https://secure.everyaction.com/zmkPGJrTP0SMKEC1Ux7WyA2
— The Green Lectionary Podcast: Advent Season offers reflections considering how all of creation witnesses the incarnation, at www.creationjustice.org/green-lectionary-podcast.html
— The “52 Ways to Care for Creation” bulletin insert for December 2023 includes weekly reflections and ideas for action, at www.creationjustice.org/resource-hub/category/bulletin-insert
Find more Church of the Brethren news:
- Remembering Belita Mitchell
- Fitzkee and Hollenberg head the ballot for the 2024 Annual Conference
- Mission Advancement shares matching gift opportunity
- Introducing ‘Shine Everywhere’
- Church of the Brethren general secretary one of more than 20 Christian leaders urging ceasefire in Israel and Palestine