Preparing for Worship: The Tree of Life

Preparing for Worship: The Tree of Life

John Haralson   •   October 6, 2017

Medieval Image of the Cross as the Tree of Life  

This tree is my everlasting salvation. It is my food, a shared banquet. Its roots and the spread of its branches are my own roots and extension. In its shade, as in a breeze, I luxuriate and am cared for. Its shade I take for my resting place; in my flight from oppressive heat it is a source of refreshing dew for me. Its blossoms are my own, my utter delight its fruits, saved from the beginning for my harvest. Food for my hunger and well-spring for my thirst, it is also a covering for my nakedness, with the spirit of life as its leaves. Far from me henceforth the fig leaves!   Pseudo-Hippolytus, Paschal Homily 51 (~3rd Century AD)

Dear Friends,

Like most of you, I really don’t like criticism―even the so-called “constructive” kind. Yet, in theory at least, I know I need it.

Luke 6 contains one of Jesus’ sermons that scholars refer to as “The Sermon on the Plain”. It has a more well-known cousin in Matthew called “The Sermon on the Mount”. Both sermons are very pointed words that Jesus directs at his followers describing what he expects from us. It is clear that discipleship has a very distinct ethical shape in Jesus’ mind.

As we approach the end of the Sermon on the Plain, we’re getting to the part where Jesus tells us to evaluate ourselves. He wants us to do some serious introspection (perhaps with the help of others) and ask ourselves hard questions like:
          Does my profession of faith in Christ have integrity?
          Am I practicing what I claim to believe?
          Is the life of God spreading through me into the world?

Though this kind of self-evaluation can be challenging, Jesus gives us these hard words so that we might have life in him and have it more abundantly.

This week: Luke 6:43-45, The Tree of Life.

Liturgy is here.

I hope to worship with you.

John

PS In preparation for Sunday, it is a good idea to read through the entirety of the Sermon on the Plain