As many of you know, Ben, the girls and I have been moving four houses down from the parsonage into the house we recently purchased. We're excited to be "putting down roots," so to speak, as look to the next phase of life together as a family and ministry at Abiding Presence.
I've been thinking a lot about roots recently. We lost two large trees during the windstorm that exposed their root balls. The massive root structures of these trees just couldn't hold up to the heavy winds that toppled them. Strong, healthy and deep roots are what keep trees from (usually) crashing down in the midst of storms.
Roots aren't just important in trees, though. They are important in people, too. We often talk in the church about planting seeds. We seek to sow the seeds of God's love, forgiveness and call to follow Jesus in the lives of the members of our faith family and the larger community. We do this through prayer, conversation, worship, learning and just being part of a faith community. Sometimes we get to see these seeds grow. Other times, we never know what will happen in the future through the work of the Holy Spirit as they are nurtured in our community and various other communities. Seed planting is important work!
BUT, seed planting isn't the only work to which God is calling us as a church. I believe God is calling us to root growing, too. I hear God nudging us to think about what it means to offer relationships, learning and experiences that will help people grow strong, healthy and deep roots that will keep them connected to Christ and the church for a lifetime. These roots are what will enable people to withstand the storms of life that can challenge and, at times, topple faith.
The larger church has done a lot of research on what kinds of experiences help young people (and not so young people) grow roots of faith that keep them connected to Christ and the church for a lifetime. They include experiences such as Lutheran summer camp, Lutheran campus ministry global mission experiences and the ELCA national youth gathering. As we look to the next 40 years of ministry at Abiding Presence and beyond, one of the things I hope we will do is think, pray and discern together how God might be calling us to be both seed sowers and root growers in partnership with the Holy Spirit. I'd love to be in conversation with you about this if you are interested. Feel free to give me a call, email or find a time to get together to chat over a cup of coffee.