By on March 15, 2019.
The Tree of Life—Thoughts on a Lenten Ember Day
Jesus is perfect. The Church is not. Yet. If you or I were ever to find a perfect one we’d ruin it by joining it someone said or wrote. I’ve experienced plenty of the imperfections and contributed to them, too. But I’ve experienced more of the goodness—quiet encounters, moments in worship, joyful baptisms, weddings and funerals—where, because of perfect Jesus, imperfect people in an imperfect institution manage to embody and deliver the steadfast love of The LORD and his grace and mercy, too. It can be grand and most often is!I took the photograph above on my iPhone a few weeks ago while waiting for that door to be opened for Evening Prayer. The trees and the shadows of the branches seeming to grow out of the door caught my eye. I thought of the Tree of Life and the door to salvation. But when I posted it on Instagram and Facebook, Karen Brantnell, a Calgary friend, commented, “Release the kraken! Sorry, not so spiritual, but it totally looks like that!” It’s true! There is a rather spooky element of darkness there. Which, upon reflection I realized, is a true and accurate depiction of the church. There’s light and beauty, but the light casts shadows. If I focus on the shadows—the imperfections, the failings, the people who get up my nose, who I think are wrong and who are leading people astray, I might leave slamming that door behind me or just not bother going through it at all. There’s a lot of both going on these days. Which brings me to Lent and Ember Day two. Pray through the darkness within and without. The tree of life was in the midst of the Garden of Eden (Gen2.9). It was pleasant to look at and good to eat. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was close by. Eve noticed it, too, was good for food, a delight to eyes and most desirable so she and Adam ate some (Gen3.6) thereby releasing the Kraken and unleashing the darkest shadows ever. You and I still encounter many things which are a delight to look at, touch and taste, and which seem so good and gratifying. The devil is still at work prowling, lying and whispering in our ears, “Did God really say that? That can’t be right. That’s not very inclusive or tolerant. You need this. Love is love, after all.” And when we yield to that temptation and we take and eat we, too, enter the shadow world of sin and death.Gene+
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