down by the riverside: the water flows endlessly

My sermon from today. In this I follow Tremper Longman’s interpretation of the ‘framing’ of the text by a second voice – his interpretation of the ‘conversation’ between Koheleth and this second voice.

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Last week we began with the tree – and we are beginning there again this morning. We know that trees are remarkable biological systems that are able to draw water up from the soil, along with mineral nutrients that are essential to the life and growth of the tree. And we know that a part of a tree’s life is transpiration – the release of water vapor from the leaves, through the small openings called stomata. As water evaporates out of leaves, a negative pressure is created in the treet that draws more water up from the soil.

Of course there’s a lot more going on within leaves and within trees than simply the movement of water – there is also that whole process of photosynthesis, where light energy from the sun is absorbed by the tree and changed into a form of energy that the tree can use – and from there we have the formation of organic compounds that are vital to the tree.

As is always the case in biology, we can look at the tree all on its own – as a beautiful and intricate system. But we can also take a step back and look at the tree in terms of its wider context or environment. For example, this morning we want to think briefly about the tree in terms of the earth’s water cycle. You’ll remember those drawings from elementary school – with clouds and with rain falling on one side of the page – arrows pointing down. And then on the other side of the page is the water evaporating up from a lake – or water evaporating into the atmosphere from frees – the arrows are pointing up. This is the water cycle – the continuous and cyclical movement of water from the air and from clouds to the soil and trees and creatures, and back to the clouds and air – and then back to the soil and trees and creatures. Continue reading