Root from Which we Grow (1)
A new shoot from an old root. Powered by the sap within the tree and the goodness within the sap.
Springing forth, a growth from God's unlimited grace. Growing in a way which is consistent with the tradition from which we have sprung.
Inspired by the Spirit (the power in the sap), but confirming the promises in a manner that maximises, multiplies and magnifies their grace, rather than restricting it or confining it.
Clue (1): Where is the deep root of prayerful trust, and praise? What assurance and abundance does that offer us? Where might that take us?
For example, in Psalm 71, we have the song of someone who is beset on every side and who is wondering, what can I cling to? Where is the sure ground? But in the heart of the psalm there are some words that point to where we can place our trust, if we are willing to do so:
But I will hope continually,
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.
Gratitude and praise may not seem to take us any further forward, but it is a place to start, even if it cannot be a solution. It was the place where Jesus always began. He always began by looking at what was happening, what was given to him, what was placed before him, and then giving thanks for it. Where this was a hungry, wounded soul, he affirmed them and encouraged them. Where this was a desperate situation, his praise engendered courage and hope in those around him. He did not deny reality, but accepted it and gave thanks that God was there in the midst of the mess.
This was what he had learned, that every moment is an invitation to trust in God who loves us and gives us power to become his children. To live as children of God: who live by grace, who live by faith, who live from love and not from fear. This is what Jesus had learned for himself, and what he taught his disciples, and what he is teaching us in these days. Every moment, even a moment of setback, anxiety and uncertainty, is an invitation to a deeper trust.
But this is not easy. In order to live like this, to live from love and not from fear, we have to be willing to acknowledge our fears and look at them in the light of Jesus' teaching. Instead of denying them or avoiding them or suppressing them, we face them with Jesus.
For this is the only way that we will ever discover God's abundant life or be able to live it ourselves. This is the only way we will ever receive the wonderful blessings contained in God's promises. This is the only way we will ever find our treasure, our Holy Grail, our heart's desire. If we want to live from love and not from fear, we must go with Jesus into the "inner room" of our hearts and minds and souls, and allow him to help us face the truth that we will find there. Not just the truth of who he is, but also the truth of who we are.
Gospel (Luke 14.25-33) and Psalm 1: God's love for us is our firm foundation/strong, sustaining root in changing times. From this foundation/root, God gives us the resources we need to adapt to changing times and conditions, take on new ideas and challenges, reach out to those who are near at hand & needing our understanding and support, or far off/in difficult terrain and requiring a greater effort to reach them. In all sorts of ways, God enables us to go where we might not otherwise feel able to go.
God of eternity - worship you - vision of your love for us.
God of love - honour your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, grant us faith to live in his way.
God of peace - meet to gain strength to face the challenges of a world on the move and life in which there are so many changes;
You meet us here,
You feed us here,
You fill us here - Holy Spirit - that we might know your peace in our hearts, that we might touch with peace all those whose lives touch ours, that we might shine as lights of peace throughout your world.
God loves us - fall short, not grateful - does us good to acknowledge this and clear the air between us.
Remembering that God loves us - whatever happens, whatever the future holds.
God who gives us roots, safety, security and provision - hence vision, courage, and hope as we move on, explore, face new challenges. Our safe place, in which we are rooted, when all about us changes, as we adapt to new circumstances, as we take on new things:
New ideas (like global warming)
New habits (like recycling etc.).
New challenges (like disasters in parts of the world we do not know)
New relationships (as with those who come to our door)
God who empowers us and enables us to reach out, go where we have never gone before, or where others fear to go.
Reach out to people who may suspect us, may ask something of us, we may fear, we may fear ask too much.