The psalmists’ expressions can represent our own experiences. In Psalm 1, the happy meditators of God’s law are delighted as they prosper. They are trees planted beside a stream, enduring and yielding fruit. In contrast, the wicked are unable to stand and are easily blown aside by the wind.
We want to identify with the righteous, the strong trees yielding fresh spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, and patience. We want to claim the identity of one who has self-control, one who is kind, good, and gentle with other people. But in many of our encounters, we feel more like the chaff, blown in all directions, unable to stand. We sin and scoff. In this passage we find the dichotomy of being human. We are struggling and evolving but also beautiful. We are flying through the air like chaff in the wind, but we are also rooted in Christ, our nourishing source of living water. When we seek paths of fulfillment outside of God, we lose our sense of being spiritually grounded; we suffer in the chaos and uncertainty of the windblown chaff. Instead of labeling ourselves as wicked and retreating into guilt that distances us from God’s grace-filled love, we can embrace the image of the tree next to the stream and return to the source of our nourishment. When we return to God, our spiritual thirst is satisfied.
In this passage, we find an opportunity to embrace the truth: our lives do not reflect a claim to live in one of these two realities but a challenge to embrace the tension of living a life that vacillates between chaff and tree. When we feel blown in all directions, we can look for the next season of fruit-bearing prosperity. When we make our least wise choices and sit with the chaffy parts of ourselves, we can once again return to God’s ways of meditative sustenance and stand in the way of the righteous.
God, you love us in moments when we lose our footing and in moments when we stand strong. When we feel caught up in chaos, revive us with your grounding love. Amen.
Proverbs describes the noble wife and sets a standard that can seem impossible. This woman is capable and respected but also generous and wise. She serves but is not weak. Is she a “superwoman,” and do all women need to be “superwomen”? No, she is noble because she follows the counsel of the psalmist and is deeply rooted in the teachings of God. Therefore, she represents a standard for everyone to emulate, not just women. James, another teacher of wisdom, encourages believers to show these same characteristics by following the wisdom given by God. In Mark’s Gospel, the disciples display a lack of wisdom by arguing over who is the greatest. Jesus reminds them that greatness in God’s eyes comes through service, not through seeking recognition.
Read Proverbs 31:10-31. How have societal expectations shaped your life? How do you allow them to shape the ways you interact with others?
Read Psalm 1. What fruit are you yielding in this season?
Read James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a. In what ways does your life reflect “gentleness born of wisdom”? How are you gentle with yourself and with others?
Read Mark 9:30-37. How do you seek to serve others in your daily life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.