READ : Mark 13:28-31
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. (v. 28)
To experience winter in Iowa is to know longing. The winters are harsh and long. Only a people toughened by years of faith survive: a faith that trusts that no matter how cold it gets, winter will give way to spring; death will give way to new life.
I remember one particularly long winter. Our little town had been encased in a layer of ice for nearly five months. By late March the weather had not broken. It was like living in the ninth ring of Dante’s Inferno—solid as a frozen lake! It got so bad, I began staring out my window, looking anxiously for a sign, any sign, of spring. Suddenly, there it was. On the tree outside my window was a tender shoot—a little bud. Spring was on the way!
I learned in that moment that it is longing that makes fulfillment meaningful. When I saw the shoot, I was so excited that I called my friend down the street. Advent is like an Iowa winter. We are called to wait in longing. We look on with anticipation for a sign that God is on the way.
God, we are sitting, longing for your tender shoot that points to “what will not pass away.”