Drummond Hill Newsletter, April 27, 2022
Wednesday Meditation (Luke 13:18,19)
He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’
In today’s world, we imagine a tree ought to be properly pruned, shaped, and managed. Many people spend an exorbitant amount of time and effort making trees look the way we want. In Jesus’ time it is more likely that a mustard tree that Jesus was talking about looked more like this mustard tree on the left, unkempt and wild.
Today, when we think of establishing a new church or community of faith, we have very clear images in our minds as what a church ought to be like and what sorts of people we want to be part of our community. Letting the community sprout in ways that it does organically and naturally would be very unwieldy and unkempt like the picture of this tree. In many ways, we are too organised to let our community be so wild and disorganised.
However, in God’s creation, this wild growth serves a very important function and allows all kinds of ways life to flourish. Jesus speaks of how this tree ends up hosting birds nests. Of course, there are ways a tree brings many different life forms. Our indigenous brothers and sisters knew that when we are able to let a tree be a tree, many life forms beyond our ability to see come together to bring about flourishing nature. Reading a book on composting reminded me how more than millions of different bacteria, fungi, and viruses make an ordinary handful of soil to nourish life in our small garden.
If we let the gospel of Christ be the seed and let it grow among us, we will be able to experience the flourishing of life as Jesus speaks about using this parable of mustard tree. The community of followers of Christ will be very unorganised and unkept to people’s eyes, but it will be a place of full life in ways we cannot imagine.
Drummond Hill 3.0
How can we be a church full of all ages? This is a billion dollar question. (Million dollars is not that much any more.) For a long while we assumed that a church should be full of people of all ages. The question we should be asking is, “Should our church be like the church of the past?”
Last week we saw how the Eaton’s Department Store was replaced by the Eaton Centre. With them, we try to think about what sort of church we will build for the future. We like to imagine a church to be full of all age groups because this image is comforting and soothing. The reality we need to think about is, however, where or what institutions today do you see all age groups come and do things together regularly?
Our world is now fully fragmented according to age groups. In places like Florida and Arizona, retired communities are without many children or younger people. Schools are full of kids. Sports arenas and gyms are mostly filled with people of similar ages in programs and activities. Rarely do we see where the young and old are together. Family gatherings in holidays are also often without all ages together enjoying festivities. Even in growing churches, families are divided in activities according to ages. It is so difficult to have all age groups doing things together and enjoying each other.
Our approach of building a community is to remind ourselves that in God’s creation, all people are to be together, loving, caring, serving, and sharing regardless of age differences and preferences. Human flourishing is not fully experienced until people of all ages are sharing Christ’s love together. This is radically counter-cultural in this world and at first glance an impossible reality to accomplish. However, if we are being faithful in loving God and one another, this togetherness is what we work for.
It is not going to be easy for us to swim against the current cultural flow. Yet, it is our task to lay the foundation for God’s creation where humanity flourishes by everyone belonging and caring for one another. Our way of faithfulness is slow, but steady as we start establishing many different ways by which many different people will begin to join our community under Christ. Initially, we will be like Paul as we reach out to Jews as a Jew and gentiles as a gentile, metaphorically. We will begin establishing many different age groups (of course, one age group at a time). As we do, we will begin to find ways to share each other’s gift together as the entire community gathers together to worship and serve God occasionally. First, though, it is important for us to create an environment where younger people who already belong to us begin participating in this new way of being a community.
Whether you go to a nursery, supermarket, or home improvement store, we see bright flowers smiling at us, beckoning us to take them home and plant them. After a long winter, it is truly a wonderful feeling to see these flowers blooming everywhere. We know there are many beautiful days ahead as we get ready for summer. The signs of life are everywhere. Our steps are lighter and cheerful.
Often wherever we think about God and doing our best to do our best as Christians, we put our efforts in glorifying God. We scrutinise our own actions to make sure we do not bring and dishonour to the Lord we serve. We can be a very serious bunch. So much so that we have been accused of being God’s chosen frozen. At times, quite rightly so.
Are we really that frozen when it comes to enjoying God? What can we be like when we enjoy God? Is there a way we can get rid of this “chosen frozen” image and be the ones who really come to appreciate and relish life as God has given it to us?
Of course. Our way is not alway loud, gregarious, extraverted, and drawing attention kind of enjoyment. We can enjoy God by looking at beautiful flowers, savouring every small detail that makes them so extra- ordinary. We are able to appreciate the sublime resistance of these delicate flowers breaking through harsh winter trampled soils.
A couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning up my backyard. As I began pulling away fallen leaves in one corner, I saw something totally unexpected. Last summer I transplanted some green onions to a barren spot near a neighbour’s maple tree. Nothing grew under- neath the canopy. After planting them, I saw these green onions dying, no matter what I did to revive them. I gave up on them.
As I began raking the leaves I saw the surprise of my life. Every single green onion I planted and assumed dead was sprouting. What a beautiful and glorious way to enjoy God who gives life to all creation! God’s gift of life fills our hearts with joy. We enjoy God by witnessing God’s creation and giving God thanksgiving. Even in the midst of world’s turmoil, our joy in God truly overflows when we can experience these miracles.