On a recent vacation to Yosemite we witnessed the overwhelming number of dead trees in California. I read an article that places the number at more than 100 million in the state. Dead trees are normal, but not usually in such large numbers. The current dead tree phenomenon is the result of drought weakening trees and then bark beatles killing them. But they don’t seem to fall… standing tall… and dead.
As I looked at tree after tree, I couldn’t help thinking of them as a metaphor for some of our institutions. Standing tall, but really dead. Is the church one of these dead institutions? It is for those who don’t believe they can experience unconditional love and community at a church. It is if it chooses to remain silent in some misguided effort to “be nice” in the face of today’s rising intolerance. It is if it’s members don’t leave their pews and build relationships in their communities.
See these new trees? They’re a hopeful sign… a sign of new life, of God’s grace… a sign that God is indeed active in the world. Will we go out and join in that work? Or will we continue to admire our dead trees until they actually fall?