“When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.” (Acts 13:29)
There are several different varieties of tree here. Sycamore and elderflower, pine and holly and a tall black hawthorn tree, its bark and fruit loved by the squirrels who leap from branch to branch. Trees, of course, are essential to the diversity of the world. Yet rainforests, the lungs of the planet, continue to be ravaged so that humanity can carry on its course of destructive progress.
At the heart of Eden’s paradise was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was from this tree that Adam and Eve plucked the forbidden fruit. In reaching for the fruit, they were reaching to be godlike, something perhaps which humanity has striven to be from earliest times: the desire to be all powerful, all knowing, above all, beyond all. A destructive desire, a deadly desire.
It took another tree to undo the destructive stretching of humanity to be God: the cross of Christ, the Tree of Life. Jesus is the Second Adam who has undone the mistakes of the first. The tree of the Cross is a symbol of God’s power and his undying love. In this depiction of the cross before you, the arms of the cross are budding, flowering, growing with life. When Jesus gave up his Spirit, darkness descended upon the land but here the sun shines brightly. Yes, Golgotha was a place of death and destruction but it became the place from which new life began to grow, where God’s love shone brightly. Christ’s death brings life, by his wounds we are healed, so that we can return to that state of innocence and sinlessness that God had in mind for humanity from the very beginning.
God, may I hide in the shadow of your wings, and cling to the cross of Christ, for by his death, you have destroyed death and in his rising from the dead, you raise us up to a new life with you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.