In the Christian liturgical calendar, the season of Ordinary Time is the longest season of the Christian year, stretching almost 2/3 of the year from Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) to Advent. Traditionally, Ordinary Time is a time of spiritual growth and walking through Scripture. At CCRC, we usually divide Ordinary Time into two parts—through the summer we walk through a book of the Bible, one of the Confessions, or a biblical theme (II Corinthians in 2015, The Apostles’ Creed in 2016, Jeremiah in 2017); then in the fall we do a series on what it means to be the church (Revelation 1-4 in 2015, I Peter in 2016, The 10 Commandments in 2017). This brings us to Advent, and then we start the whole cycle over again. This year, through the summer, we are going to look at stories and passages of Scripture that deal with trees. The biblical authors make a big deal out of trees—highlighting them in stories, using them in parables and teachings, even listing different types of trees as a way to show God’s creativity and the diversity of creation. Trees also serve a deeper, symbolic function in the Scriptures. They are alternatively places of divine revelation, and places of idol worship. Trees serve as symbols of a wise and righteous God-follower, and of a corrupt and wicked king. Trees are planted and cut down, cultivated, and burned. They provide shade, food, life, and wood for building houses, making fires, and carving idols. God plants trees in the Garden of Eden, and in the Heavenly Jerusalem. We wanted to look at trees during Ordinary Time this year because they teach us an important biblical truth—that God takes ordinary things and gives them deeper meaning. God takes a tree, for example, and makes it mean something more, makes it point to something greater than itself. That’s also what God does in our lives, and Ordinary Time is an important place where we learn this truth. Through our ordinary rhythms of life—our waking up and our lying down, our meals and our daily prayers, our work and our play, our relationships and our alone time—God is forming and shaping us to be more and more like Jesus. Ultimately, the trees of the Bible point us to Jesus. Jesus hangs on a tree to bear the curse for us. Jesus is the tree of life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. Jesus is the true vine, and we are his branches. Even trees carved into images of false gods for idol worship remind us of the truth that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.” As we reflect on trees this summer, we will also reflect on how God is growing us to look more and more like Jesus—giving us deep roots of faith, a strong trunk of hope, and branches of love that bear fruit in the Spirit! Throughout the series, we will be working our way through a wide variety of themes, including the Trinity, salvation, discipleship, creation care, leadership, idolatry, and a host of other themes as well! As you prepare, take some time to read and pray through the passage assigned for the day and see what themes you find!