A good friend of mine had a huge rose bush that grew just outside the front door of his house. Though it was at least 15-feet across and had long shoots arching out and spanning almost a third of the way across the pathway to his door, it didn’t grow many roses though it did have many thorns.
One year while visiting from seminary, after he commented his parents were visiting from the United Kingdom, I agreed to help my friend weed his yard. As he worked in the back, I stayed in the front, eventually confronting the thorny rosebush. Today is the day, I thought, I am going to trim this bush back.
Wearing thick gloves to avoid any bloodshed, I trimmed until the bush was about 3-feet across. Eventually, my friend came out to check on my progress, and was speechless at the sight of his rose bush. I thought to myself, “maybe I went too far with the trimming.”
“What did you do to my rosebush?” he said.
“I trimmed it.”
With the gift of British understatement, he said, “I can see that. I hope you haven’t killed it.”
Walking up the driveway a year later, I was taken by the fragrance of roses. Rounding the pathway’s corner, I was stunned to see the glory of his rosebush. There were hundreds of fragrant and beautiful roses blooming on its branches. As he came to the door, I silently pointed to the rosebush in wonder.
“I can’t believe it either,” he said. “I thought you’d killed it, but, it’s never looked this beautiful before and I’ve never seen so many roses.”
Did you know, in biblical times, rosebushes grew in many places in the Holy Land? Jesus probably walked among them as he taught and prayed.
Advent is a season of preparation, when we are called to look within ourselves and clear the behaviors blocking the path to wholeness and peace. As you and I walk the path to Christmas, let’s put on our work gloves and prune out the overgrowth of unkind and self-centered behaviors inhibiting fragrant and healthy relationships with God and one another.
Let’s take a look at those things inhibiting the son from reaching out shining upon and through us and work to rake them away.