The wind has kicked up today and carried all kinds of leaves into my backyard. Along with ones that have fallen from my own generous poplar and an ambitious fruitless apple, I spy leaves from neighboring trees—aspen, oak, fruitless plum, globe willow, cottonwood, and some my untrained eye can’t pin down.
I don’t know about you, but until fall comes with its bounty of leaves, I don’t give a lot of thought to trees. Said another way, I take trees for granted just a little bit. And yet, without them, where would any of us be?
November 20th, we’ll shift from our usual worship format to spend time prayerfully reflecting on how trees can help us better understand our church and its unique place in our community. This worshipful, retreat-like experience will build on conversations we’ve been having this year about our “why” dialogue and discernment that is vital as we continue to embrace the understanding that “Now Is Our Time.”
Between now and November 20th, I encourage you to give yourself over to some quiet contemplation so that when you come to the Ute that morning, your heart, mind, spirit, and soul have been readied for the experience that awaits us.
Here are a few questions to ponder in preparation:
- Roots are essential to the well-being of every tree. Roots enable trees to receive and share nourishment. They also help trees stay grounded when wild winds blow. As a church, we are rooted in God. What can we say about this God of ours who nourishes and grounds us?
- Trees typically have trunks and branches. These aren’t for show, of course, but rather support the tree as it grows and stretches in life-giving directions. What faith-related values, convictions, and priorities support us as we stretch and grow? (You might find some help by considering anew our Five Smooth Stones.)
- Trees do more than draw nourishment or invest their energies in growing trunks and limbs; they produce leaves that give off shade and even bear fruit and nuts to share with the world. What are the distinct gifts and graces we share with those beyond us? Who/what kind of people beyond us need our particular shade and shelter? Who/what kind of people beyond our doors have hunger our church can help satisfy?
Just a reminder: while many trees have many things in common, each type of tree has its own qualities and characteristics, and in turn, each individual tree has its own distinct shape and story. An apple tree is not an orange tree, a hazelnut tree, no matter how hard it tries, cannot turn itself into an almond tree. So it is with Community Spirit as a church; God has created us to be and offer something that might be similar to other churches but which is not identical to any of them. The more we know who we are and what we are called to grow into, the more we can be the church God intends.
If you would like to talk before we gather on November 20th, reach out to me by phone or email. I would welcome the exchange!