Isaiah 35: 1-10 “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom” When I was in 6th grade, my family spent part of summer at the Ghost Ranch Presbyterian Conference Center near Abiquiu New Mexico. It was a landscape of red rock mesas, scrub brush, cactus and desert. Some was more barren than other parts, with little to nothing growing. At the ranch, we learned that the land had been overgrazed by sheep herds in the past, increasing run-off of what little rain fell. The Ranch staff for years had been helping with replanting of desert grasses and bushes, even some trees. Hillsides were anchored and water retention increased. When the Messiah comes, the deserts will bloom. Ghost Ranch isn’t the only place impacted by desertification. Life can be like that. Life can be like a desert where life is dried up, burnt and brown. Such as after a death of a husband, wife or child. Life can become very dried up. Or, when love slowly dries up and marriages becomes like a desert. Or, during an illness like multiple sclerosis or like cancer when life can feel much like a desert. Facing the realities of war, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, and polarization can make our communal life seemed dried up, harsh and lifeless. The Word of the Lord is this: “When the Messiah comes, your deserts will bloom again.” Advent reminds us that life can emerge from the ruins; the dessert can bloom; and lives restored. Where does our church need to embody spiritual horticulture? What great things do we need to embody God’s realm in our community’s work in the world? What will it mean for us to help the deserts bloom? Prayer: Give us faith that when the Messiah comes, the deserts will bloom. When the Messiah comes to your life and mine, those deserts will start to bloom again. Amen. Rev. Bill Schram began his ministry with Westminster in March 2018 and is the current Interim Minister. Bill attended McCormick seminary in Chicago and met his wife Jenny there. They have served as co-pastors and in separate positions. He has served churches in urban, near suburb, small town, county seat towns in various positions such as pastor, associate pastor, interim pastor, and hospital chaplain. He and Jenny have two natural and one foster daughter. Delightfully, they now have a granddaughter to enjoy.