Rustlings (January 5, 2015)

TWO YEARS AGO… I visited my childhood home in Eudora, Arkansas. I drove the rental car to 927 Mabry Street, parked in the empty driveway, walked the circumference of the red-brick ranch and ended up in the backyard. Then I saw it. Along the back left edge of the yard was the magnolia tree. I pushed a bottom branch aside, slipped in and sat against her trunk. This space had been a playhouse, a fort, a pirate ship, a hiding place, a reading space and more. In that quiet alone moment, I found myself praying, ‘God, this was a great tree.’

TODAY… I’m sitting in our Sanctuary – our tree. I’m on the third pew – front center. The roots of this great tree are spread out under me. Her trunk climbs the wall behind the pulpit and her branches are spread above my head. I’m writing and thinking about this space. This Sunday, we will celebrate baptism and the ordination of deacons under this tree. Next Sunday, we’ll ordain Kendra Plating beneath these branches. This Spring, Kyle Matthews and I will stand near her trunk and co-preach a Lenten series of sermons on the seven last words of Jesus. Every Sunday, our choir will gather in her shade and assuredly lift our spirits with their music. Weekly, you will be here – a gathering of friends in the playhouse, the fort, the hiding place, the reading space. In the quiet of this moment, I find myself praying, ‘God, this is a great tree.’