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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

October 2010

Jesus said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? 

It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden;

it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19

 

Dear Friends,

            Have you noticed, this year, how eagerly the trees are welcoming the fall?  They’re in such a hurry to render up their leaves and close down shop for the winter!  This summer was hard on them, with the constant light, the cloudless days, the hot temps, the weeks without rain.  Our battered and beleaguered trees started to drop their withered leaves all the way back in mid-August.  Now the colors are changing swiftly.  By mid-October—usually peak season for leaf-peepers—our trees might be nearly bare.  And yet, I’m an admirer of the trees, and so I like the fact that Jesus compares the life of faith to a small tree.  It’s a thing of humble origins that, when lovingly planted and carefully tended, provides rest and shelter for those seemingly insignificant birds.

On a recent trip to Jamaica—to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding—I picked up a metalwork sculpture that made me think of this parable.  Now it hangs in my office: a grayish-brown sheet of tin, a foot-and-a-half tall by eight inches wide.  Some island artisan painstakingly fashioned that little piece of tin into a beautiful tapestry of birds resting in a bush.  The branches of the little shrub twist gracefully, like swans’ necks, culminating in big, fanlike leaves.  And three carefully designed mourning doves are perched among the foliage, with raised wings and sharp beaks.  To me, that piece of Jamaican metalwork art speaks of the refuge and rest that I find in my own life of faith and in the company of people who share it.  It also speaks of the sense of well-being that I hope others will discover when they nest among the branches of our church. 

            So you and I are the birds, and our life of faith is the tree.  Trees undergo seasons.  They have rich years and lean years.  They even change.  Sometimes trees hold their leaves well into the fall, and sometimes they drop those leaves early.  Sometimes whole branches die for lack of light, or too much light, or pollutants or pests.

            And so, where am I going with all the tree-talk?  Two things:

1.) Trees change according to circumstances and seasons, and so does faith.  Like all living things, our understanding of God and life will grow and be transformed from one season to the next.  So, in keeping with the autumn season, and in faithfulness to Jesus’ parable, allow your faith to be transformed, perhaps even to the point of grasping old truths in new ways.

2.) From time to time, just let yourself rest in the branches. (And by “branches,” I do mean pews…)

Serving together,

~Brian