They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations. – Isaiah 61:3-4
I love trees. Given the choice between a nice, sunny expanse of lawn, and lots of trees, I’ll take the trees any time. I really appreciate living in the middle of a heavily wooded area like Wake Forest, where the house is shaded and the view is constantly changing with the seasons.
I still remember the feeling of awe my first time in Northern California, standing in front of the Giant Redwoods and the Giant Sequoias. It’s almost as if they communicate deep truths just by being. Something about them speaks – whispers really – of the timelessness of creation, of the stature of God’s amazing work, and of the simple privilege of being a part of such a wondrous world.
So I hate it when a tree in our garden has to come down. Yesterday we had two large pine trees removed, one because it was dead (better for us to chose the timing and the direction of its inevitable fall) – and the other because it’s lifting our driveway to the extent that people fall down and car undercarriages are scraped.
Sad, yes, but also very interesting to watch the tree experts do their work. Mr. Nelson took down one tree standing in a cherry-picker, and climbed the largest one like it was a ladder. The trees came down a section at a time, each log shaking the ground as it hit.
I took several photographs, and I’ll include the best ones here because they’re really cool….
…But the real reason I’m sharing this story is because it made me think of the Isaiah passage above. No, we didn’t lose any oak trees, but the idea of being a solid witness to God’s justice and righteousness has already been on my mind – ever since our big anniversary celebration at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church.
You see, the body of Christ has this constant opportunity to stand witness to God’s reconciling initiatives of love and grace – oaks of righteousness with a mission to put right the devastations… Alternatively – and too often – The Christian Church tells another story, a story that discourages, alienates, and builds walls between people and the wide-open love of Jesus.
I want to be – as the prophet writes – a repairer of ruined cities, and one who helps to put right the devastations of many generations.
This is what we are up to as followers of the living Way of Jesus. Let us be oaks of justice and righteousness, truth-tellers who point the way to the kingdom, a church that stands as an invitation and a community of joy!
Fragmented thoughts today, I know, but it’s been a very difficult week, and I need to be engaging the bigger picture, the story we have been chosen for, and called to live – DEREK