Storm winds – 1; Staghorn Sumac tree – 0.
This is not the first time the Sumac tree in question has tangled with high-powered winds. It was “laid down” a bit in winds following the ’20 tornado; since then its posture has suffered but that tree is determined and strong. Well, until this past week. This post is not about the parallel between the storms that uproot or break down trees and the storms of our lives – although, those parallels exist and teach us well. This post is not about community happening in purer form when we rally to and for one another – although, that reality is exactly what is created when love, mercy, and grace are extended generously among us. No, this post is about what has not happened quite yet to my sumac tree, but is sure to … and, how it will happen to you and me, too, if we are careless.
It won’t be long now before the sumac tree’s leaves (and, eventually, trunk and all) begin to wither and dry, turning brown and brittle. It’ll happen because there is no flow of nutrition and water throughout the tree; it’s been cut-off from the source of life-giving things and processes. This, then, is a picture of what happens to us at every possible level – physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, and more.
The sumac tree was no match for the winds that blew through a week ago. However, you and I are children of the Most High for whom nothing is impossible. God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7) as well as God’s own Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28a and Acts 2:4ff). That means we can withstand the stormwinds of life as long as we are rooted, connected to God, our Source of Life. Not close by, no connected most of the time. Abiding in Him.
Jesus has plenty to say about the glory of abiding in God in John’s gospel. Later this month we will begin a series of sermons and study sessions that will help us really take hold of Jesus’ promises and the life of abiding in Him. Three things we hope you will take advantage of before we start this journey:
One, join us in prayer. Every day. We invite you to pray with us for yourself, your family, for Cook’s UMC, and for God’s Church to reap (pun fully intended) the benefits of discovering the richness of life abiding in Christ. Some of us are doing that at 7a and 7p. Won’t you join us?
Two, the study sessions will include some spiritual practices that may not be familiar, so we are offering FaceBook livestream mini-classes to introduce these practices. During the next three Wednesdays, we will introduce you to lectio/visio divina, prayer of examen, etc. (7/12 at Noon, 7/19 at 9a, and 7/26 at Noon). We hope you’ll give these practices a go before we start our study.
And, three, guides for study are available for each of the six weeks of our Abide in Christ adventure. If you have a copy of the latest Connector magazine for Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference, you’ll find a QR code inside that will take you to the online worksheets. If you do not have access to such, please email Rev. Sandra or the Cook’s UMC office and we’ll send you the guide(s) via email. By the way, we hope you’ll encourage your Sunday School classes and small groups to dive in deep with these guides for further discussion and learning!
Thank you to our Annual Conference who put these great resources together and for a Bishop (and Cabinet) who are attentive to the nudgings of our God, leading us in this direction.
Apart from Him, we are nothing, we can do nothing. But, abiding in Christ, there is nothing we cannot face, endure, triumph over, relish in …
In order that we abide in Him,