Terebinths of Saving Justice
Pam Cress of Bonney Lake, WA, USA
The Temple is an instrument of ongoing revelation in the life of the church. Its symbolism and ministries call people to reverence in the presence of the Divine Being. Transformative encounters with the Eternal Creator and Reconciler await those who follow its spiritual pathways of healing, reconciliation, peace, strengthening of faith, and knowledge. —Doctrine and Covenants 162:8a
Some time ago I read the following from a lectionary text: “They will be called ‘terebinths of saving justice,’ planted by Yahweh to glorify him” (Isaiah 61:3). I had previously done some study on the terebinth trees in the Old Testament. The following description provides a good image.
Terebinth or turpentine trees grow and flower in the desert. They can do this because their root system is larger and more developed than the crown. They can live a long time without water because those well-developed roots can sustain life. Even when they lose their leaves and look dead, they will re-grow from the stump if cut down.
They live as long as a thousand years and stand as markers for travelers who lose their way in the desert. There is healing in the leaves, resin, and bark of terebinth trees. There are cancer drugs made from terebinth, as well as other medicinal uses. These trees offer rare shade in a desert. Their limbs burn easily for warmth on cold desert nights.
I pray for the leaders of the church often. And as we look to the future with all its challenges and possibilities, I would like to offer this prayer for the leaders.
Prayer for Peace
I offer deep and humble gratitude for each of your servant ministers. While differently gifted and called, each one has said “yes.” They serve in a world that, at times, does not share the same passion for you and for Christ’s mission that guides their choices.
May they be like the terebinth trees of old. Bless them as they seek to grow even deeper into your Living Water. As those roots grow stronger in relationship with you, may you bless them with awareness of those who need that same root strength, so none will wither and perish. When life’s circumstances are harsh, hurtful and seemingly life-destroying, may they remain rooted in Christ who is their life and the source of their offerings. May they each know that they are path-markers to those seeking truth and light in the dark of not knowing.
Help them be aware of times when they might show the way to the lost, or those in need of sheltering shade. May they remain stalwart and unshaken in the storms of life. May they find joy in offering connections and in pointing the way to the Spirit’s healing love. Rooted in your love and grace, may each one know your Spirit’s warm embrace this day and every day, through Christ. Amen.
Spiritual Practice: Praying for Leadership of the Church
An important spiritual practice for disciples is praying for members of the body of Christ, especially those who carry leadership responsibilities. Ask God to guide your awareness of people who lead the community of faith in congregations, mission centers, and the World Church. Pray for God’s outpouring of grace on each servant leader who comes to mind.
Today, God, I will pray for disciples who lead, and those who have the courage to follow the leaders of Christ’s mission.