Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday - The Legend of the Dogwood

Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle East were large enough to use for building. However, one tree was valued for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood. When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this same wood to construct crosses for executing criminals.

One day, an officer of the Roman court came and said, "The King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from your finest wood." A fresh tree was cut from the forest of the trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall cross was quickly made and delivered.

The tree was distressed at being used in such a cruel manner. Sensing this, Jesus - with gentle pity - said to it:

"Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will your kind grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth all will be slender, bent and twisted - and the blossoms will be in the form of a cross, two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

Three days after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the chief wood gatherer received alarming news.

"All of our finest trees are withering," the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried to the forest and saw that it was true.

Several years later, the old wood gatherer heard that every spring people visited the forest that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like a wilderness, with only a few trees still standing tall - baked, lifeless and rotting.

But what was this? As he drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes. Seeing one of his own workers there, the old man said, "No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!"

And then he noticed the beautiful white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch of a miniature cross...