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Tuesday, June 30, 2009 

The Tree Of Life

It’s no secret for anyone who reads my drivel on a regular basis that I love the great old hymns of the historic church. There is really something to be said for hymns that stood the test of time (and with time a good bit of theological scrutiny) and made it into the hymnals which we use today.

I am sometimes wrongly accused, usually by my evangelical brothers in the faith, of not recognizing that hymns are being written and sung today that meet the same standards as the old Greek and Latin hymns I love so much. This is simply an incorrect assumption. There are indeed great hymns being written today and I can say with certainty that more great hymns that confess or proclaim Jesus will be written as long as our Lord tarries.

One of the hymns that I believe will stand the test of time is Pastor Steven Starke’s “The Tree of Life” which was reviewed on Issues, Etc. last week. Pastor Starke’s hymn wonderfully takes us from the Tree of Life to man’s fall (in chapter 3 of Genesis) by Adam’s sin of eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and then to God’s plan of salvation for his disobedient children through another tree; Christ’s cross at Calvary. Just as man’s story starts with Tree of life; Starke ends the hymn with an eschatological look forward to eternity. Starke ends the hymn with us looking to eat once more of the Tree of Life in God’s presence as He intended (Rev 2:7 and 22:2).

This beautiful hymn’s walks us through the biblical story of man’s fall and God’s salvation by Grace in the work and person of Jesus as good as any solid Bible study. This great new hymn can be found on page 561 of the Lutheran Service Book.
Here’s the text of the Tree of Life;

1. The tree of life with ev'ry good
In Eden's holy orchard stood,
And of its fruit so pure and sweet
God let the man and women eat.
Yet in this garden also grew
Another tree, of which they knew;
Its lovely limbs with fruit adorned
Against whose eating God had warned.

2. The stillness of that sacred grove
Was broken, as the serpent strove
With tempting voice Eve to beguile
And Adam too by sin defile.
O day of sadness when the breath
Of fear and darkness, doubt and death,
Its awful poison first displayed
Within the world so newly made.

3. What mercy God showed to our race,
A plan of rescue by His grace:
In sending One from woman's seed,
The One to fill our greatest need--
For on tree uplifted high
His only Son for sin would die,
Would drink the cup of scorn and dread
To crush the ancient serpent's head!

4. Now from that tree of Jesus' shame
Flows life eternal in His name;
For all who trust and will believe,
Salvation's living fruit receive.
And of its fruit so pure and sweet
The Lord invites the world to eat,
To find within this cross of wood
The tree of life with ev'ry good.

And here is the segment of Issues, Etc. with Pastor Steven Starke discussing the same:

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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