by Darren Pope
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Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no-one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken (Micah 4:4).
As I nimbly switched from forehand to backhand at full pace, my Dunlop Volleys squelched through the crusty court surface and sank into the black sticky mire below. Ah, the 70s! Growing up in the country and playing hardcourt tennis meant my Saturdays were spent enduring blistering temperatures on the court and actively exerting myself amidst stinking hot South Australian summers. It was hot enough standing still, let alone playing hard as the dry heat sucked the air out of my lungs. Yep, you could have cooked an egg on the court, I reckon!
There was so much relief when the singles match was over, and I could finally come off the court. My focus was to get into the shade, stop, find water and then food and rest to recover. I still had my doubles match to play. As we travelled to different clubs, my favourite venues were the ones with a glory vine wending its way overhead. Summer vines are filled with lush, broad, intertwined leaves and tendrils. They weave a haven from the harsh and searing sun and allow dappled light and a cooling breeze to filter gently through, refreshing our salty skin and sun-sapped souls. Their specific purpose was to provide a shady shelter.
As humans, we actively live each day. It’s not a passive journey or the free ride of a passenger. The journey of doing life together is demanding. It can be taxing, hard, hot, and it can suck the air out of our lungs. Where can we find a shady shelter today – and in the days to come? In the Gospel of John, we read that God is the vine, and we are the branches. In him, we will be more fruitful. Our loving Lord is the foundation. It’s his work to provide us with strength, structure and support, all while being deeply rooted in the love of our Heavenly Father.
We know our king is coming. Advent is a verb, so we don’t just sit and wait – we do Advent. We actively look forward, anticipate and remind ourselves of the deeply personal relationship that God shares with each of us through his Son. We walk in the name of the Lord – forever.
We can walk, serve, rest and play comfortably, confidently and safely in his love.
We are refreshed and nourished in his shady shelter.
It’s always God’s work. As a vocation, our life of service and worship is the response to what he has already done for us. How will you do Advent?
Lord of love, thank you for coming to me again today in love. Your gracious love amazes me, comforts me and inspires me. You know the day I have in front of me; thank you for walking with me. Thank you that I can lean into you and be okay. Amen.