August 24, 2022
I was recently discussing the sources of illustrative stories for possible use in sermons, or other teaching opportunities, with one of the other deacons. I suggested that we ought to take a hint from some of Jesus' own teaching techniques.
For example, many of His parables and illustrations start out by saying that as Jesus was walking along He happened to see ... ( You fill in the blank - one time it might have been a fig tree, another time, a farmer sowing a crop, or a field ready for harvest, or a faithful servant, or ...) And then He would use some aspect of that picture or anecdote to say, "the kingdom of God is like ...". I suggested we could do the same - God is evident all around us.
The photo above is a case in point. It is of a small tree in my front yard. It is some sort of hybrid ornamental with lots of blooming branches on a relatively small trunk. To make matters worse, it is relatively new to our yard, having been planted when we replaced some dead bushes a couple of years ago. The last background item you need to know is that we live in Colchester, best known for its sandy soil.
A few nights ago, we received some very heavy rainfall in a relatively short time. The blooms held the new fallen rain remarkably well, which added considerable weight to our little tree. The tree did not break, but it did fall over - its fairly new root system in the very sandy soil could not handle even the slightest imbalance in the heavy load. The photo shows multiple ropes and braces, hoping to keep the tree upright till it can develop a more robust root system.
So, here is your homework:
Finish the following sentence: "The kingdom of God is like this little tree ...........".
When I first asked this question, one of our members, Jerry, responded as follows: "The kingdom of God (and my faith in particular) is like this little tree in that it requires braces (support) to continue to grow strong, such as:
1. Regular Prayer asking for God's help in dealing with the storms of life and thanking Him for His many blessings,
2. Regular Bible study to discern God's plan for me and those I love,
3. Regular meetings with other Christians to share life's stories, successes and failures, and to learn from one another about God's love for us."
If you repeat this exercise regularly, you will soon find that you begin to see Jesus working in places you previously never seemed to notice. It is so simple, we often overlook the obvious - if we open our eyes, we will see!
This week, may we make our prayer the words of the praise chorus by Bob Cull, "Open Our Eyes."
"Open our eyes, Lord,
we want to see Jesus
to reach out and touch Him
and say that we love Him.
Open our ears, Lord,
and help us to listen.
Open our eyes, Lord
we want to see Jesus."
Your Brother in Christ,
Warren J. Ayer. Jr.
Chairperson, Board of Deacons
United Church of Colchester