Tree of Wisdom, fruitful, green, flourishing beside the stream; spread your knowledge day and night; make your law my true delight. Fashion me, O Lord, to be strong and splendid as a tree.
Tree of Justice, ever bless; shade me with your righteousness. Teach me how to live your ways, and my lips shall sing your praise. Fashion me, O Lord, to be ever branching as a tree.
Tree of Plenty, feed my soul; nurture me, and make me whole. Give me strength, cast fear aside; let me in your love abide. Fashion me, O Lord, to be firmly planted as a tree.
Tree of Promise, keep your vow: with me then, and with me now. Springtime blossoms, winter tears, mark the seasons of my years. Fashion me, O Lord, to be always changing as a tree.
Like a forest all around, so the gifts of grace abound: flowing waters, fertile sod, sunlit dawn, the Word of God. Fashion me, O Lord, to be living, giving as a tree.
Sitting here looking out of my window at a cherry tree in full blossom, feels like an absolute luxury. The nation is still staying at home to limit the spread of Covid-19 and I am mindful of all those who live in flats or don’t have a garden, those with no local park or no one willing to take them to the woods for a walk. The tree described in these wonderful hymn words, suddenly feels like an extravagance gift, out of reach for some.
In Proverbs 3:18, Wisdom is ‘a Tree of Life for those who lay hold of her’.
In Psalm 1:3. those who follow the way of the Lord ‘are like trees planted by streams of living water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.’
I certainly yearn for this to be true in my own life – and yours.
The repeated phrase ‘Fashion me, O Lord’ is a cry to God; a request – ‘fashion me, O Lord’:
Help me to be strong and splendid for myself and for others.
Help me to be ever branching and reaching for others and myself.
Help me to be firmly planted
Help me to be open to change
Help me to be living and giving
Help me to be tree-like for God.
Take a moment to read the hymn again, deeply asking for each entreaty to be alive in you.
In our seeking and asking to be tree-like, we are reminded that God is like this for us.
We can give thanks that in the midst of a fragile and volatile world, a tree stands strong at the heart of us.
Great God, tree of Wisdom, justice, plenty, and promise; teach us the gifts of your grace, the gentleness of your strength, and the power of your beauty.
Help us to reflect you in the world, offering your grace in our words and actions just as you have gifted your love and grace to us. Amen
The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon and South Croydon United Church (Methodist/URC)