For most of us, life isn’t easy. Shakiness and instability can rock us, without notice. We experience tension in our relationships, stress at work, grief because of loss, dryness in prayer, and fear of our future. We feel like we’re Jesus’ disciples in the boat on a choppy sea. When we look overboard, all we see is choppy water. Beneath the surface is God’s refreshment and rest, but we can’t see the bottom through the churning water on the surface. If only it were still. Then we could see clearly the beautiful bottom, with fish and reef and life. Perhaps there’s some hope just knowing that the beautiful sandy bottom is there even if we can’t see it.
So often we’re blinded to the deeper reality of God because of the surface-level things that soak up our attention and energy. When the water clears we might see loose sand, yet another reminder of the unsteady reality of life. But there’s even more beneath the sand. It is the beginning of very foundation of the earth beneath us, supporting us, always there, even supporting the water above it, and the boat, too.
Beneath everything is foundation. Jesus is referred to as the Root of Jesse, as a descendant of Jesse, King David’s father. The Christ is imaged as coming from the stem of Jesse, but the expression finds more fruit when Jesus is seen the foundational roots of the tree, from which we come, keeping us grounded and steady despite any shakiness above. There may be the illusion that there is no foundation. The birds above may feel the sway of the branches in the breeze or the boat on the sea feels unsteady. Yet Christ is the foundation, the foundation of the Kingdom of God, imaged by Jesus as a protective mustard tree. He himself offers protection by calming the sea, lifting heavy burdens, and asking Zacchaeus to come down from the shaky tree to the firm ground below.
At Christmas this steady and supportive God that seemed invisible and hard to see comes down to earth. For a moment the waters calm and the wind dies down, long enough to be reminded that we are grounded in a God who desires our peace. We rediscover that God comes to serve and to save. The instabilities of life will always be present, but the foundation below is there, whether we see it clearly or not.
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Thank you for this wonderful reflection. It’s particularly meaningful for me this Christmas. I will use it as a guide to prayer and
contemplation in the weeks ahead.