trees and prayer

July 31, 2015



I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

The older I get the more I appreciate trees.  I have always appreciated trees, after all I’m from Kansas. Eastern Kansas where I grew up is on the edge, prairie to the west and deciduous forest to the east. When it is 105 degrees in August, a tree is very welcome.

Increasingly I find myself looking at trees. As I sit in my backyard I see at least 8 different kinds of trees. I don’t know the names of all of these trees. That’s just laziness on my part. I’m sure I have a field guide to trees somewhere. For goodness sake I can google “trees” on my phone and find out. But I don’t need to know the names to appreciate the trees.

On the one hand, they all have green leaves and have bark.

But each bark is different, each tree’s leaves have their own shape and shade of green.smokey_leaf Each tree has its own branching pattern.

Every spring they each bud in a different way, at different times.

Every fall they turn a different color and drop their leaves differently.

The wind moves the leaves and branches of each tree differently.

The snow falls on each tree differently.

One can spend a long times sitting and looking at trees and not have wasted a single moment. It is a kind of prayer, looking at trees.


Who’s in, Who’s out: PC(USA) edition

July 25, 2015

In some PC(USA) circles there is a certain amount of- shall we say- dismay at the revelation that Donald Trump and Ann Coulter are Presbyterian. To be honest, my first reaction to that information also contains just a little bit of dismay.

Honestly, Trump and Coulter? How did that happen?

Well, Jesus. Because Jesus is the head of the church and therefore our model. And Jesus welcomed all.

And then there is PC(USA) polity.

From our constitution, The Book of Order

G-1.0302 Welcome and Openness

A congregation shall welcome all persons who trust in God’s grace in Jesus Christ and desire to become part of the fellowship and ministry of his Church. No person shall be denied membership for any reason not related to profession of faith. The Gospel leads members to extend the fellowship of Christ to all persons. Failure to do so constitutes a rejection of Christ himself and causes a scandal to the Gospel.

So, we have no choice. People decide they want to join us, we don’t choose them.

These are the questions potential members are asked (with the answers, because it’s not a quiz)

  • Who is your Lord and Savior?     Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.
  • Do you trust him?     I do.
  • Do you intend to be his disciple, to obey his Word, and to show his love?     I do.
  • Will you be a faithful member of this congregation, giving of yourself in every way, and will you seek the fellowship of the church wherever you may be?       I will.

Four questions.

We don’t expect sophisticated theological answers.  All we ask is that you trust Jesus and are willing to be his disciple in this particular congregation.   We begin there and together we figure out what being Jesus’ disciple means.

There are no guidelines for appropriate congregants. There are no particular standards.  Which explains how Donald Trump, Ann Coulter, Fred Rogers and I all end up Presbyterian. We’ll take anybody.  Which is both awkward and wonderful. I suspect if Donald and Ann knew me, they would be as dismayed about me being Presbyterian as I am about them being Presbyterian. But that doesn’t matter. We don’t choose each other. Christ chooses each of us. We have to figure out how to be the church together.

My hunch is Jesus finds all this very amusing and he’s telling us, “Okay kids, figure out how you’re going to get along. And then show the world how to do the same, because that’s part of your work as the church. But don’t worry, you aren’t doing it alone, I’m always here to help.




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