Friday, April 2, 2021

Outdoor Object Lesson: The Easter Tree

Key Text

"But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruit of those who are asleep." I 1 Corinthians 15:20 (WEB)


Some plants have unusual names. One prime example is serviceberry. Serviceberry describes a genus (Amelanchier) of small trees rather than a single species. There are around 20 species in this genus. These plants live up to their name as they serve a lot of uses. Today they are commonly used in landscaping. They produce beautifully colored, showy flowers in spring and their small size ensures they won't grow above buildings and become hard to tend. Flowers are usually white but can also be light yellow, pink, or tinged with red.

In past centuries the serviceberry provided other uses to humans. Native American tribes used its wood to create sturdy but flexible arrow shafts. Some tribes used the wood to make armor. Most importantly, the berries provide a good source of food. Northern Native American tribes used these berries to make pemmican, a life-sustaining food used during the harsh northern winters. This dried, calorie-dense food was the original granola bar. It was a staple food of polar explorers for centuries because it provided a smorgasbord of vital nutrients. Its berries are so popular some species are still harvested commercially today.1

Serviceberry also provides food for animals. Like humans, they love the sweet, dark blue berries. Sometimes these trees are planted in order to attract wildlife for viewing. So where did the name serviceberry come from? It is said that these trees always bloom at Easter time.2 They open just in time for the Easter service and thus represent an end to the death of winter and the new life of spring. They remind us of the service Jesus provided when he died on Good Friday.

Easter is the oldest and most important Christian holiday. While Christmas may be more popular, Easter captures the heart and soul of Christianity-- Jesus' death and resurrection. It provides hope of life after death for us. This was his greatest service. Like Jesus, serviceberry trees serve many purposes and ask for nothing in return. At Eastertime, remember what Jesus has done for you. And then go and do likewise, serve others without asking anything in return. 


Can you think of a weird name to give a plant?

What does Easter mean to you?

Do you think egg hunts, Easter bunnies and special candies undermine the true meaning of Easter?

Name one way you could serve someone this Easter.



2. George M. Dickert, "Serviceberry," Clemson University Cooperative Extension online, Jun 25, 2018, from

Written by David F. Garner
Photo credit:  lqlqlqlq75 via