When the Roots Whither

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.”

John 15: 4 – 6

             From the top down, the oak tree on the edge of our parking lot was dying. On Thursday of this week, the men removed the tree. What was the reason for its demise? The roots had grown under the macadam and the impervious surface kept the rain from reaching the root system. The autopsy revealed a simple cause of death: lack of nourishment.

            Long ago I heard one of my seminary professors preach in the last months of my seminary education. He was my favorite teacher then and I paid close attention as he spoke to all of us who were weeks away from starting our full-time ministries. He said that day that we needed to develop a deep root system. Ministry demands much of you, said my professor. You won’t make it unless you remain nourished and connected to the source of your life.

            The keen eyes of our Sexton, George Salt and other members of the Property Committee noted that the dying oak tree next to Fellowship Hall produced hardly any new leaves at the top. Dead branches fell to ground more frequently. Death produces debris.

            Have you had a close look at yourself recently? What’s falling out of your life? Debris looks like this: coldness towards others and God, zero spiritual hunger, no desire to serve someone else or share what God has done for you, and a multitude of these dead-branch attitudes: complaining about everything, bitterness, refusal to forgive, no joy and no laughter.

          Now it could be, and is the case for many of the people of Thompson Church, that there is rich, life-giving fruit falling out from your life. This is what life-enhancing fruit looks like: generosity of time and resources, the ability to spot the many good things that God is doing among us today, overwhelming joy whenever there is the chance to gather to worship with God’s people, and a multitude of these flourishing-branch attitudes: forgiveness, patience, mercy, kindness, self-control and a conquering love for just about everybody you meet.

“Church is the place where . . . gestures of gratitude can be learned, nourished, and expressed.”

            There are many important ways to water the roots of your life, but I find that being in worship on a Sunday morning to be the most reliable way to fill your tank. Read what Pastor Don Postema writes about what awaits each time we enter our sanctuary or Fellowship Hall. “The church is a place where we realize and celebrate that we belong to God, that God has acted redemptively for us. The church is the body of Christ, the place where the covenant is actualized, the covenant community. The church is also a place where gratitude can be encouraged and where gesture of thanks can be learned, nourished, and expressed.”


            Thirsty? See you in worship.