Marion Mennonite Church’s vision statement:
We are a community rooted in Christ, being transformed by the Spirit, sustained by God’s love, actively inviting the faces we see each day into the Way of Jesus.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Trees figure prominently in this creation scene. Before Jesus, before the bible, trees captured the imagination of many ancient peoples.
Can you identify a half dozen things that you like about ‘live’ trees? (be specific) (shade, majestic, etc.)
Do these half dozen ‘tree appreciations’ that you identified appear in the above ground part or the below ground part of a tree?
What does it mean to be ‘rooted’ in something we cannot see?
What happens to a tree when it’s roots stop deepening?
Is there anything ‘treelike’ in Jesus’ words, ‘be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect?’
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went towards Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And he was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’
To our modern minds, which have come rely heavily upon provable facts, rational beliefs and scientific evidence, we are more likely to shortcut this Jacob’s dream story.
Do you suppose God ‘body slammed’ this dream upon an unsuspecting Jacob?
Or, did Jacob, rascal that he was, posses a God receptive mind?
What does it mean for me to keep an ‘open to God’ mind at all times?
‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
For many years much of the Christian enterprise seems to be centered on getting people into heaven. (my impression)
Here Jesus goes back to a very ancient understanding of trees.
What do these words ‘I appointed you to go and bear fruit’ and to ‘love as I loved’ mean for life here on earth?
What do these words mean for my personal growth?
How do these words connect with the ‘faces we see each day’ part of our vision statement?