From Acorn to Oak

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in it’s shade.”             (Mark 4:30-32 NRSV)

What are you excited about today? Are you excited about the growth that is taking place in your life? Are you excited about the opportunities for service and good deeds that exist all around you in our church today? Are you excited about the variety of possibilities that the future holds for you? In other words, what gives your life energy and enthusiasm? The unfortunate fact is that a great many people are not excited about much of anything. In fact, many people are living lives that are crippled by cynicism, despair and depression.

Now, it would be incredibly naïve of me to suggest that there is nothing in the world to be depressed about today. That simply isn’t true.  There are all kinds of things that can seriously undercut our enthusiasm and dampen the joy of living. There have been natural disasters. Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes.  There’s been so much destruction, loss of property and life. And on a broader scale, the accumulating effects of global climate change continue weigh on our minds and darken the outlook for the future of our planet. And we see people, especially children, who are starving, suffering from curable disease, or homeless and living in the street.  There are wars, genocide, threats of nuclear missiles being launched and all we hear are angry words being spouted and instead of the calm, slow, work of diplomacy; fear and saber-rattling rule the day. There’s much to be troubled about these days.

But it’s not just the international scene that can lead to despair about life and self. An illness that you thought was minor turns out to be life threatening. A parent that you thought was in good health is suddenly struck with a serious illness. A good friend dies in the prime of life. You reach out to those around you but no one reaches back, and you feel alone and disconnected. You do what you can to help others, but the very people you seek to help turn on you with judgment and rejection. We’ve all been there. It’s not hard to find a whole lot of evidence to justify being cynical, bitter or even depressed about life.

But here’s the thing.  There’s another side to all this.  Amid all this negative stuff, there’s the potential for something better; something great; something of God.

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  A number of years ago, I was driving along a four lane highway, when, for stretch of several miles, I encountered the aftermath of a wildfire.  The fire had claimed everything. No shrubs or undergrowth were left and only charred shells remained where a forest of towering oaks once stood. I remember being upset by this sight.  All those beautiful oak trees gone, just like that.

Several years later, however, I found myself travelling that same route. Now, I had long since forgotten about that devastating fire but as I approached the affected area it all came back to me; the emotion, the sense of loss, maybe even a slight fear of seeing that sight again.  At the time, I thought it was a really a strange reaction for a grown man to have about a bunch of burned up trees, but that’s how I felt as the forest quickly thinned and the scene of the fire appeared.

It was strange however. While there were still some of the “burned out” trees standing, the green undergrowth had come back, forming a lush meadow where the oaks once stood.  But even more than that, I saw some thin shoots sprouting up among meadow grasses.  Now, I wouldn’t suggest doing this when you’re travelling on an interstate, but I pulled over and went across the ditch to investigate these shoots.  And do you know what they were? Oak trees.  The fire that destroyed the mighty oaks was not able to vanquish the tiny acorns.

And that’s where today’s gospel lesson is taking us.  It’s leading us from being mired in the depressing circumstances of our lives and the world around, to seeing things from a new perspective; from the perspective of potentiality

In our text, the people who heard and believed the good news of the gospel were liberated from the prison of a negative perspective and given instead a perspective of potentiality through the transforming power and liberating love of God. They were given a glimpse of what is possible when human beings overcome whatever stumbling block lies in their path and adopt a positive attitude.  So, this concept of potentiality, in this context then, generally refers to any “possibility” that a thing can be said to have. And any potential, any of these possibilities, come not from of our own efforts, but because of the redemptive power of God.

When Jesus tells his listeners that the Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which is the smallest seed on earth but which has the potential to become the greatest of all shrubs he’s inviting men and women to look at the world with new eyes. In this very brief parable Jesus is saying, “This is the way God does things. God is like a sower who scatters seeds. The seeds may be tiny and invisible to the naked eye. Yet when the seed is planted, it has the potential to grow into a shrub that provides shelter for the creatures of this world. The Kingdom of God is like this. The initial evidence may be infinitesimal, but the ultimate results will be great.”

So, if you believe that this is how God does things, then what will you do? Well, you might begin to look for mustard seeds. You might look for the first signs of this kingdom with faith and optimism. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” Your faith may be no larger than a mustard seed, but if you take it seriously and use it, then you can move mountains. You can do great things if you are willing to offer yourself to one who has planted within you the tiny seeds of love and generosity, mercy and hope, justice and kindness.

Now, it’s possible to become so hardened in our living, that these seeds find no good ground in which to sprout. Thomas Merton reminds us of an important fact when he writes, “The mind that is the prisoner of conventional ideas cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and supernatural desire…how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and an opposite desire?”

When you became a member of the church through baptism, God recognized and blessed you. And the sacrament serves to remind you that you are somebody. You are special. You are a child of God. That’s the vision that God has given us here.  A vision to “live out” this God-given potential that lies within us.

Mother Teresa, began her orphanage with such a vision. She told her superiors, “I have three pennies and a dream from God to build an orphanage.” A dream and three pennies represented resources as small as a mustard seed. “Mother Teresa,” her superiors gently said, “you cannot build an orphanage with three pennies…with three pennies you can’t do anything.” “I know,” she said, smiling, “but with God and three pennies I can do anything.”

My friends, Don’t give up on yourself, on others, on the church, or even on the world just because you see hate, greed, and brokenness. Rather, believe in God’s possibilities even if the evidence is as tiny as a mustard seed. Remember, it’s the creative potential itself, the creative potential that’s within each of us, that’s the image of God.  The parable of the mustard seed reminds us that God’s beginnings may be small, but God’s results are great. The task of the church then, is to look for the signs of the kingdom which may be no larger than a mustard seed; to live and love with a new perspective; we are called to be the mighty oak that arises from a single acorn; and we are challenged to send forth new shoots. New shoots of love and justice, of equality and hope.

May it be so.  Amen.

Fruit Loops

 

James 1:17-25

Connection to Series

Today, we continue to look at life “between the trees” …the tree of life in Genesis and the “tree of life” in Revelation.  In addition to the words of James, we are going to look at a passage from the second part of Luke’s “sermon on the plain”. Now, this is Luke’s version of Matthew’s more famous sermon on the mount, and like Matthew, Luke reminds us of God’s covenant. And this particular-passage is important because it encapsulates the very heart of the gospel message.  Hear the words of Luke:

 

“A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, nor does a bad tree produce good fruit.

Each tree is known by its own fruit.

People don’t gather figs from thorny plants, nor do they pick grapes from prickly bushes.

A good person produces good from the good treasury of the inner self,

while an evil person produces evil from the evil treasury of the inner self.

The inner self overflows with words that are spoken.[i]

 

Opening Image

Let me start out today by asking you a question: What did you have for breakfast this morning?  Eggs, bacon, toast, waffles? Not me, I had my usual bowl of cereal.  I really love my cereal.  All kinds.  Life, Shredded Wheat, any kind of Chex.  But when I was a kid it was Fruit Loops.  Now, I didn’t get them all the time and never at home.  Fruit Loops were a special treat that my sister and I got at grandma’s house.  Because breakfast at grandmas often came in the form of a “variety pack” of cereal.  You know what I’m talking about. Those eight little boxes of cereal wrapped in plastic with the sides that could be punched-out to make a bowl, which always leaked milk all over the table.  But we didn’t care, they were eight boxes of sheer joy to us; a joy that always sparked a competition.  You see, the challenge was to be the first one up so you could get first choice of cereal.  And guess what, the first one to breakfast got the Fruit Loops.

Fruit Loops were the holy grail of breakfast cereals when I was a kid.

Now, I would have lived on Fruit Loops if I thought I could get away with it. But as we grow older and hopefully wiser, we come to understand that a Fruit Loops only diet would be a very unhealthy one.  As we mature, we become aware that what we take into our bodies affects every part of our life and health.  If we are introspective, we come to realize that we literally are what we eat.

 

The Gospel Text

As we turn to our text for today, it too calls for introspection; for us to take a long and hard look at our inner selves and how we treat others. And it’s a call not only to look, but then to do something about it.  As we approach this subject, I think it’s important to ask ourselves: Are my words quick to blame, or to cut-down, or to ridicule others; or are my words compassionate and loving? When someone disagrees with me, how do I react; do I scream my point of view at the top of my lungs or do I listen to the other side of the issue? In other words, what fruits do I present to the world? Are they good and healthy and nourishing or are they dried up, old, and stale?

My guess is that, for most of us if not all of us, all the above would be the most accurate answer.  True?  Although we strive to be gentile of tongue, we all slip up occasionally.  No one is perfect.  Believe me, you don’t want to cut me off in traffic when I’m in a hurry, my reaction might be, well let’s say, a little less than pastoral.  What comes out isn’t always our best.

And that’s what’s at the core of what Jesus is trying to teach us here.  Basically, he is saying: if what’s on the inside is good, good things will come from us, but if our inner-most self is corrupt, then corruption with spill forth from our tongues. He’s telling us that what is required from a disciple is a “genuine goodness of heart.”[ii]  So Jesus is concerned with the condition of our heart. And what our lives look like everyday says a whole lot about the condition of our hearts and that in turn, effects how we treat others.

So, the introspective part of all this becomes important because what’s on the inside, the good or bad in our hearts, has consequences for the rest of our lives and has an impact upon all our relationships; and ultimately, our relationship with God. I heard it put this way also… You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. It’s who you are on the inside that counts. So, your true being will spill over into your words and deeds.[iii]

 

Application

Now, that interpretation leads us to another aspect of this passage; one that moves us beyond a focus solely on ourselves and into one that encompasses a broader sense community. If our insides are good, then, as this passage alludes to, then “our true being will spill over into our words and deeds.” Discipleship requires more than just good deeds.  “It requires integrity and a purity of heart such as one sees in Jesus himself.”[iv]  So the call of today’s lesson is to be Christ-like in our words and actions. We can’t just give “lip-service” to our Christian outreach, we must live it!  Our challenge then is to “work the words” so to speak; to actually do what we say were going to do. It’s like what James said in our Epistle reading for today. He challenged us to be “doers of God’s Word, and not just hearers.”[v]

Let me give you an example of what I mean.  During a Saturday afternoon community service day, Pastor Bill White writes that he was walking down a narrow side street in the city of Compton, California, heading towards one of the worksites sponsored by a local church.

It was towards the end of the work day, and dozens of yellow-shirted church volunteers—maybe 50 in all—were streaming out of the site, getting ready to head off to dinner after finishing a complete makeover of a local house. Bill was six or eight houses away when he passed a married couple working in their own yard. He paused to compliment the woman on her roses, and she asked him what they were doing down the street. He replied that they represented a band of churches united in by desire to serve the city. They then continued to chat about the radical neighborhood transformation that she had witnessed by their simple acts of kindness. Now, during their conversation the woman’s husband had been working on other side of the front yard. But when he saw Bill’s yellow “volunteer shirt,” he came over and joined the conversation.  Pastor White then said, “I will never forget his words. After looking into my eyes, he nodded approvingly towards the renovated house down the street and then said, ‘I love your heart. Where can I get a heart like yours?'” Flabbergasted, Bill replied, “We got our hearts from Jesus, and he would be glad to give you one like his, too.”[vi]

 

Conclusion

Friends, the unparalleled Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change hearts, homes, neighborhoods, and indeed the world.  When we take the good that is within our hearts, and share it with others, that good is multiplied.  When we “live out” our faith by serving all of God’s people, whether they are from our church or not, we reflect the face of Christ to all who see us. Because remember, “… in a pluralistic world, a religion is valued based upon the benefits it brings to its nonadherents.”[vii] And who knows, maybe someone who is on the fence, who has been hurt by the church in the past, someone who’s only experience of Christianity is flipping past the TV preachers… maybe someone like that will see the goodness of your heart, if you are letting that goodness flow out, by reaching out to others in need. And maybe, just maybe, that call starts today.

[i]  Luke 6:43-45. Common English Bible (CEB)

[ii] The New Interpreter’s Bible. (NIB) Vol. IX (Abingdon Press: 1995) 151

[iii] Excerpt from Luke 6:43-45. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Eugene H. Peterson

(NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, Co. 2002)

[iv] NIB. 151

[v] James 1:22 (CEB)

[vi] Story told by Bill White, Paramount California (www.preachingtoday.com) 2012.

[vii] A Generous Orthodoxy Brian D. McLaren (Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, 2004) 111

Firmly Planted

(Psalm 1: 1-3, II Corinthians 1:2-7, and the Book of Job)

Opening Image

Many years ago, when I was still working in a garden center, I found a very large caterpillar attached to a tree.   I thought it looked cool, so I took it home to my children where we placed it in an old aquarium with some grass and sticks. And, as you might guess, it wasn’t too long before the caterpillar attached itself to one of the sticks and formed a cocoon around itself. Now this was fascinating to my kids. They kept checking that cocoon every morning and night (and probably fifty times during the day), but nothing happened. Day after long day, nothing from our caterpillar. Until finally, one morning, after a blood curling shriek of excitement, we observed movement within the cocoon.  But even though we knew our caterpillar (and soon to be moth) was still alive, the process was still a very slow one.

Now, my kids, especially my son Russell, were increasingly becoming impatient with this lack of progress, so he took a pencil and was about to poke a hole in the end, when his sisters stopped him.  But what a wonderful teaching moment this became.  You see, Russ’ impatiens had given us the perfect opportunity to discuss why the moth needed to struggle to get out of the cocoon.  As you may already know, the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to escape, forces fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it’s ready for flight once it comes out of the cocoon; a freedom and autonomy that can come only after a struggle. By trying to help him along, Russ would have deprived the moth of his struggle thus robbing him of the ability to fly. The moth needed to struggle to survive.

An Exegetical Perspective of the Text

Now, like our moth, humankind has always had to struggle as well.  In our text for today from the Book of Psalms, we see the Psalmist take on this subject of the human condition by comparing us to trees which are firmly planted by streams of water.

Now, on the surface this may seem like a strange comparison.  If I am in crisis mode, wondering if my affliction will ever end, how is being planted by a creek going to help?  Well, this is where symbolism comes into play.  People who are open to God’s instruction, even those who are currently struggling in life, are never without a resource to sustain them; namely, God’s live-giving waters.  “What the tree imagery highlights, then, is not primarily the aspect of fruitfulness but he importance of a stable rootedness. The root is in precisely the proper place, beside a water, which represents God life-giving instructions. And It’s this deep rootedness in the proper ground that allows the tree to withstand drought and to always bear good fruit”[i]

In other words, if we are rooted in God, no matter what our struggles consist of, we have a resource to help us as we fight our way through to the other side. Not that God fixes everything for us, no one ever said life would be without difficulties, no ever said that we would not have “cocoons” of our own to struggle out of, but we are given the opportunity, a fighting chance, because God is struggling along with us

A Theological Perspective on the Text

So, what this all boils down to then, is God’s faithfulness.  Even in the tough times, God is faithful.  Now, you may want to say to me, “that all well and good, pastor, but what do you really know about my suffering?” And the truth is I don’t. Not fully anyway. I can relate to what you may be going through and I can hold your hand and be there with you as you go through it, but I finally can’t fully understand how your affliction affects you.

But here’s the thing. God does.  God understands completely.  Let me give you a couple of concrete examples from the Bible about what I mean.  First, our lesson from Paul for today.  In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul says:

… the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction.” [ii]

Now, on the surface, this may seem kind of cliché, platitude-ske, even insulting if were not careful. Does Paul mean God sent the lightning bolt at me just so I could show someone else, at some unknown time in the distant future, how to put the fire out? Really? That’s why I’m suffering? Well to give you an ambiguous answer: yes, but no.  Here’s what I mean.  I read an alternate translation of this passage this week which might help us to shed some light on this text.  Paul says of God:

“…[God] comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, [God] brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”[iii]

What a difference.  When we read this version, instead of accusing God of afflicting us so we can comfort someone else in the future, Paul tells us that God walks alongside us in our distress, and as an aside, we may encounter others who are walking that same path.  Interesting, according to this passage, suffering comes then not because of anything we have done or left undone or because of anything God has done to us, but rather as a circumstance of the human condition.  In other words, “stuff happens” and how we deal with the “stuff” matters; including reaching out a compassionate hand to others when they are dealing with their “stuff.” And all the while, God is walking alongside both of us.

That’s the first Biblical example of God’s faithfulness, and the second is this: Job. You all remember the Book of Job.  Job was righteous; he was healthy, wealthy, and wise;  and Job was blessed with children whom he loved.  But in an instant, Job lost everything.  All his animals died, his children were killed and he found himself covered with boils from head to toe. And the rest of the book is basically about Job’s response to his friend’s and his wife’s advice about how to approach God in his suffering.

Now, to this day, Job’s very name is synonymous with suffering. But Job’s response to God isn’t necessarily what one might expect. You see, we have come to see Job as the benchmark for faithfulness; and rightly so.  Because even through all his sufferings, he remained faithful to God. But if you haven’t read the story I would recommend it.  Job was faithful but not silent. He demanded answers from God and he asked the same kind of questions you and I ask God.

In a commentary I read this week, the author said of Job: “He asked, ‘Why?’ He asked, ‘Why me?’  He asked his questions persistently, passionately, and eloquently.  He refused to take silence for an answer.  He refused to take clichés for an answer. He refused to let God off the hook.  Job did not take his sufferings quietly or piously. He disdained going for a second opinion to outside physicians or philosophers.  Job took his stance before God, and there he protested his suffering, protested mightily. Now, it is not only because Job suffered that he is important to us.  It is because he suffered in the same ways we suffer – in the vital areas of family, personal health, and material things.  Job is also important to us because he searchingly questioned and boldly protested his sufferings.  Indeed, he went to the very top.”[iv]

Application to REAL Life

So, what do we do with all this; suffering and moths, Paul and Job? And what in the world does all this have to do with trees? Well, the point of all this is for us to remain “firmly planted” in the Word and Way of God. Notice I said both Word and Way? Living out our faith entails both reading and reflecting on Scripture and then taking that knowledge out into the world.  Paul challenges us to walk alongside others who are suffering with struggles that are like our own, just as God continues to walk beside us.  And Job, Job is a continuing, but deeper, contribution to this message.

Maybe think of it like this.  “In our compassion, we don’t like to see people suffer. And our instincts are aimed at preventing and alleviating suffering. No doubt that is a good impulse.  But if we want to reach out to others who are suffering, we should be careful not to do our ‘helping’ with the presumption that we can fix things, get rid of them, or make them better.”[v]

If we follow the Book of Job’s lead, however, maybe we could shift our focus from trying to alleviate the suffering of a friend, which isn’t going to be very successful anyway, to entering the suffering with our friend, participating, insofar as we are able.  And if we do that, then we can walk alongside our friend, joining them in protest and prayer.  “As we look at Job’s sufferings and prayer and worship, we see that he has already blazed a trail of courage and integrity for us to follow.”[vi]

Friends, As the Psalmist says, happy are we when we delight in God; and when we meditate on God’s Word and Way we will indeed be like trees planted, firmly rooted, by streams of abundant and everlasting water.  As we go forth today, May all your struggles, all your cocoons, make you even stronger and even closer in your walk with God as God continues to walk alongside all of us.

Prayer

Let us pray. Loving, Ever-Present, Still-Speaking God… Walk with us this day, weep with us in all our afflictions and shout cheers of joy with us in all our celebrations, and show us, God of all Compassion, how to walk alongside our neighbor in their sufferings and celebrations.  In the name of the One who keeps us “firmly planted” Jesus the Christ. Amen.

[i] The New Interpreter’s Bible. (NIB) Vol. IV, Commentary on the Psalms (Abingdon Press: 1995) 685.

[ii] II Corinthians 1:3, The New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible (NRSV)

[iii] II Corinthians 1:3, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Eugene H. Peterson

(NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, Co. 2002)

[iv] Introduction to Job. The Message, 631.

[v]  Ibid, 633.

[vi] Ibid. 633.

The Tree of Life: Part I

 

At the center of earth’s creation stands a tree.

I have always loved trees.  I think I love trees so much because it’s among the trees that I feel closest to God. All kinds of trees. Some newly formed and just beginning their life span, and some ancient, each ring containing a tale of God’s continuing act of creation.

And I think it’s this love of trees that has lead me, over the course of the past several years, to notice that there are many references to trees in the Bible.  Recently I have focused on six of these references and I have begun to tease out their deeper symbolism.  The result of all this is this six-part sermon series marrying the Biblical concepts “rooted” in these tree metaphors (pun intended) with a deeper understanding of how they connect with our everyday lives.

Now, The Biblical story seems to support this concept.  It begins with a tree at its center in Genesis, the “Tree of Life”, and it ends with a focus on the “Tree of Life” in Revelation. And scattered among the pages in-between, there are literally hundreds of references to trees.  So as people of faith, we “live between the trees.”

Now, this notion of “living between the trees” isn’t one I can take credit for…  It comes to us from a pastor named Rob Bell.  I saw a YouTube video once featuring Pastor Bell planting a tree while asking some very intriguing questions and offering some very poignant remarks.

“We want to know why we are here,” says Bell. “If our lives really matter. How our religion is relevant to this life. Today. We want to understand what significance this minute, hour, week, month, and year has upon our lives. To our world. We need a God who cares about this life, in this world, right now. We want to understand why everything we think, everything we say, and everything we do matters. We don’t want to just sit back and wait for something to happen or someday to come. We want to know if all the choices we make now will shape our world and lives for eternity. Because we want our lives to have meaning today, and our lives today to have meaning forever.”[i]

It’s with this stream of consciousness that I wish to pursue these “tree” texts.  I don’t want to offer you a picture of a God who created and left; something like a “drive-by” creation. I don’t want to offer you a picture of a Jesus who existed and healed and loved only in the past. Instead, as pastor Bell said, we need “a God who cares about this life, in this world, right now!” We need a God who has spoken to us in the past and is Still-Speaking, still creating, in the world today.  We need to know that God is with us and that what we say and what we do, matters.  We need to know that our lives finally matter.

To explore this possibility, however, I think the first thing we need to talk about the meaning of time. The Bible continually portrays God as existing infinitely into the past, and infinitely into the future rendering this realm between the trees, temporary. It’s not how things were before the beginning nor is it how things will be after “the end.” This world that we live in is but a portion of eternity.  But the world we live in, this very moment in time, is our reality. Now, when a Jewish Sage named Jesus comes onto the scene in first century Israel, his understanding of reality and eternity is that eternal life begins right now. In theological terms, it’s called a “realized eschatology.” He teaches in parables about people who do good work with little responsibility, and thus, in turn, are given greater responsibility later down the road. So, the work we do here in this life does matter.  How we love God and love our neighbor, matters.  How we reach out to those in need, whether that need is hunger or thirst, employment or an alternative means to survive, clothing or a roof over a homeless head, what we do, matters.  How we go about reaching out to our fellow human beings, how we care for the environment, how we choose to worship God in the reality of this world has implications in eternity and it matters to God! Real world things matter in eternity!

A few summers ago, we experienced a drought. I would imagine that it’s no surprise to any of you that the scorching heat and the prolonged lack of rain is hard on plant life. So, the Condo association where I was living at the time send out an e-mail asking each resident to water the trees and shrubs on our common grounds. (Even the well-established ones are in danger of withering and dying) Interesting, even though trees are a symbol of longevity and strength they still need a helping hand occasionally.  Now, would all the trees in Wisconsin die if we didn’t step up and water them? Of course not.  The trees will endure.  But they I think they were a little better off because of the refreshing drink of water we gave them during the drought.  In other words, we did make a difference.

And that my friends is where this sermon series on trees will find its roots.  These tree metaphors will symbolically lead us through the Bible touching the leaves and the branches of many trees as we travel along.   It’s a very tactile, “hands-on” journey with a God who happens to also be very tactile and “hands-on.”

One final thought this morning, on many occasions, people have asked me the question, “Where is God?” But maybe a better question to ask would be… “Where Isn’t God?” God’s fingerprints are all over this world, or maybe it’s God’s world and our fingerprints are on it. As Rob Bell once stated, “We live between the trees in a world that is drenched in God.”[ii]

My friends, perhaps our lives, perhaps our faith, should also be “drenched in God” And as we go back out into the world today, may each of us be a hose, a “super-soaker” drenching all whom we encounter with the grace and compassion and understanding and yes, the love we have come to know living here, between the trees.

May it be so. Amen.

[i] “NOMMA Trees/ 003 Rob Bell”  (Video series by Flannel,  Published by Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2005)

[ii] Ibid.