Healthy growth within . . .

In the bulb there is a flower, in the seed an apple tree . . . unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In early May I joined the Trustees during their annual Spring Clean-Up in the gardens around the church. At one point I was chatting with Lynn Golding as she was pruning an entirely overgrown rose bush at the south end of the property. She had also removed the weeds that had grown up through it. All that was left of the rose bush was the skeletal remains of its former self. I remember commenting, “It will grow back.” “Healthier than it was before,” I thought.

Then I glanced over to the pile of branches that had been pruned from the trees along Park Avenue. It seemed you could build another tree from the “spare parts” lying on the parking lot. I glanced up to the trees and saw what I imagined to be the holes where those branches had been. It hurt to see so much of the trees in a pile waiting to be carted off to the dump. I knew they were destined to be chipped into mulch and would help other trees, plants and flowers grow. Still, it hurt to see them go.

On the next day, as I was walking out of the church building after worship, I gazed upon those trees. The trimmed branches were gone, and I couldn’t see a hole in the trees anywhere. Time and space had given me a new perspective. The trees were in full bloom, and they were nothing short of spectacular.

There's a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; There's a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.

   From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

When I look back on the past 14 months there’s a great big pile of trimmings that have been pruned away. So much of what we took for granted was gone. While it’s possible, and in many cases justified, to lament all we’ve lost, it’s also possible, and far more fulfilling, to celebrate what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. Still, I’ll not dwell on those here. I’ve written about them extensively in past columns.

Lately, I seem to be surrounded with more questions than answers. The burning question for me is, “Will we do something with what we learned during the pandemic or just “go back to normal”?”

We’ve learned about isolation. I pray we continue checking in on one another.

We’ve learned the importance of worship, in person or online. As restrictions are eased and comfort levels are increased, I pray we’ll all try to gather in person more frequently than before. With joy overflowing for the opportunity, I pray we all invite and bring others.

We’ve lamented the loss of live singing in worship. When singing returns I pray we will we sing out with heart, soul and full voice.

We’ve learned the importance of fellowship. When Coffee Hour returns, I pray it will extend it to a whole hour because we’re taking time to mingle and chat with more people, and not just sit with the few we sat with before.

Our opportunities for service have been limited. I pray that we will emerge ever more ready to serve in Christ’s name.

My prayer is that this season of pruning will produce healthy growth within us. And, like those branches chipped into mulch, enhance the lives of the world around us through our ministry.

I believe we can come out of this healthier than before. I believe that is what we all want. Will you join me in prayer, worship, and fellowship?