December 31, 2023

Read Isaiah 61:10-62:3.

As much as I love how houseplants brighten my home, I admit: I have no idea what I’m doing. Some of my plants have flourished, growing beautifully regardless of what I do, and yet others, despite all my research and care, wither away. Sometimes it feels like no matter what I do, these plants will flourish or fade for reasons beyond my understanding.

It’s easy to believe that we are the creators, instigators, and controllers of our own universes. If we are good gardeners, tending to our life and even our faith like a houseplant, then all those good things God promises — justice, righteousness, and grace — will flourish.

But that’s not always the case with plants, nor with our relationship to God. The prophet Isaiah understands this. He writes, in other words: I am joyful because of God. The Lord God is the one who will grow righteousness. God is the force that makes gardens grow, the one who creates justice, and the one who offers grace. God tends to our universe and life, not the other way around.

If God promises to grow righteousness, what then is our reaction to this good news?

We are called to be joyful, to proclaim that joy loudly, and help tend to the garden God is already growing. Because of God’s actions, we are sustained to spend another day, another year, living into God’s promise of justice that grows no matter how good of gardeners you or I may be.


Creator God, you grow righteousness and offer grace and mercy. Guide our lives so that they might be joyful proclamations of what you have done and will continue to do. Amen.

Rev. Caroline Barnett

Pastor, Presbyterian Church (USA)