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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"A Lesson From The Dogwood Tree"

Message summary: We can be blessed by a story that reminds us of Jesusí love and sacrifice. 

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"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us" (1 John 3:1).

We sure enjoy the flowering season during Spring when the Dogwood Tree is blooming. We have two in our lawn, one white and one pink. The flowering Dogwood is native to the eastern part of the United States, from New England south to the Gulf Coast. But it also extends into the Midwest and is the official state tree in my home state of Missouri.

Jerry, a friend from Kleen-Rite, works in an office in the building behind the two Dogwoods seen in our lead photo. Last Friday I was commenting about the beautiful appearance of these trees and Jerry told me about "The Legend of the Dogwood Tree", which includes Christian symbolism in the tree, especially the flower.

I researched online and one of the top searches is an article from another company we are connected with in our chaplaincy ministry, Eaton Farms in Leesport, PA. Although it doesn't specify who wrote the article we consider our favorite Arborist, Don Eaton. Although we are sure a number of our readers are familiar with this story today we will share it in our Daily Encouragement.

Thereís nothing more majestic than a dogwood in spring, decked out with fabulous flowers! To some people, though, Dogwoods hold a deeper meaning. The legend of the Dogwood tree is an age-old story that tells the story of this magnificent tree and how it became the tree we know and love today.

Our story begins almost two thousand years ago in Israel. If you ventured into the forests of Israel at that time, you would have seen plenty of sturdy oaks, lofty cedars, walnut trees, and moreóall of which are fine and noble trees, loved and used by carpenters.

However, one tree was prized above all others: the mighty Dogwood. Back then, the Dogwood lacked its distinct fruits and flowers, but it was still impressive, rising taller than any oak or cedar. Its wood was strong, hard, fine-grained, and easy to work with. It had no equal, and it was constantly in demand.

During this time, a simple carpenter was declared King of the Jews and was sentenced to death. The method of execution? Crucifixion. And the tree used to fashion the iconic wooden cross? A Dogwood.

According to the legend, the Dogwood felt great sorrow for the role it played in Jesus Christís death. While on the cross, Jesus sensed the treeís anguish, and He decided to transform it so that it could never again be used in crucifixion. From that point on, the Dogwood was no longer a tall, stately forest tree. Rather, it became a small and shrub-like tree with thin and twisted limbs.

Jesus was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. Three days later, He rose from the dead. At the same time, the Dogwoods in the forest burst into bloom, and they continue to do so right around Easter in what is believed to be a celebration of Jesusí resurrection.

Dogwood flowerWhile the Dogwood tree never again took part in an execution, itís still said to carry the marks of Jesusí crucifixion. Its four large petals represent the cross he died upon, and each petal displays four red-tinged notches that are said to represent four nail holes. And in the center of each flower is a green cluster that is symbolic of Jesusí crown of thorns.

Alas, the legend of the Dogwood most likely originated in the United States in the 20th century. They are not native to the Middle East, nor would they have been found growing there in Jesusí time. Nevertheless, the legend persists, and many Christians revere the beloved Dogwood as it continues to remind them of Jesusí love and sacrifice. (From the Bower and Branch website)

It is more than likely just a legend but nevertheless we can be blessed by the story and symbolism of Jesusí love and sacrifice. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, while we have no history to indicate the Dogwood Tree was the wood Jesus' cross was made of, we can appreciate the symbolism from this beautiful tree created by You, the Master Creator. The Dogwood is said to carry the marks of Jesusí crucifixion; it's four large petals representing the cross He died upon, and each petal displaying four notches (some red tinged) that are said to represent four nail holes. And we can see in the center of each flower the stamen, which is a green cluster symbolic of Jesusí crown of thorns. That which reminds us of the great love and sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf is worthy of our attention and that which is created by You helps us to appreciate all You provide for our daily enjoyment and comfort. Amen.

Dogwood photos

Gettysburg dogwood tree 4/28/19
Sunday afternoon we saw this Dogwood tree in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Our backyard Dogwood

Pink dogwood bloom (photo by Doris High)
Pink Dogwood blossom
Photo by Doris High

Flowering dogwood 5/6/18
Flowering Dogwoods are blooming in our neighborhood, including this pink one.

Backyard dogwood in snow 2/3/14
Our backyard Dogwood after a snow storm. This is one view we don't care to see for another 8 months or more!
(Click on photo for larger view)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Behold What Manner Of Love"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"Legend Of The Dogwood Tree"  Video  Told by the distinct voice of Paul Harvey Sr. (Brooksyne likes to point out that Paul Harvey grew up in Tulsa Oklahoma, where she was also raised!)

"If I Were the Devil"  Video  Paul Harvey, quite insightful and prophetic! We appreciate the common sense wisdom of two Oklahomans, Paul Harvey and Will Rogers!

Finally today:

Galen with restored tractor 4/30/19 (Click to enlarge)
Late yesterday afternoon returning home from our chaplain visits (and a vigorous 16 mile bike ride through Swatara State Park) in Lebanon County, we noticed from a distance something very colorful in front of our friend Galen Martin's home. Passing by we saw it was his restored 1949 tractor and turned around to get a closer look when we saw Galen walking down the lane to his steer barn. He seemed pleased to come back to show us the tractor.
(Click on photo for larger view)

1949 Minneapolis-Moline tractor has a lot of sentiment to Galen. His father, Earl, purchased this tractor in 1949, the same year Galen was born and Galen had worked on it through his childhood and his younger farming days. In March we took this photo in his equipment barn of the tractor undergoing restoration.

"Farmers Tribute: So God Made A Farmer"  Video  Another thoughtful oral essay by Paul Harvey. Galen faithfully demonstrates the quintessential American farmer this describes. It reminds me of a plaque I saw many years ago at the Indiana State Fair called "The Dignity Of The Farmer" (pdf)

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