January 22, 2021  

A Message from Dane  

Like most families last year, my wife and I were a little overwhelmed when school was cancelled. We both had jobs, we were a long way from family, and the days seem impossibly long without the usual supports and plans. The Sunday evening when we first heard the news, I spent a frantic hour scribbling a schedule for the coming days in my notebook. I may have been a little over zealous and there was some initial complaining from the ones who had been scheduled, but it seemed like the only way to manage through endless hours of open space.  

I was flipping through the notebook the other day and was reminded that between 9:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. we did Bible memory. It is amazing what could be accomplished in fifteen minutes a day. The first passage we memorized was Psalm 1, a psalm that summarizes and gathers together many of the great themes of the Bible. The opening verses especially provide a vision to live by.  

Happy are those     
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,     
or sit in the seat of scoffers;  
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,     
and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees     
planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season,     
and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
Psalm 1 (NRSV) 

Day after day, as we slowly recalled these words, they began to sink in and God knew that I needed them. I look back on those months with a certain reverence not because they were easy but because God gave us what we needed to get through them.  

We live in an era of media saturation where we are bombarded with opinion, advice and judgement, and especially these days it is tempting to take a seat with the scoffers. But we are called to send our roots beyond the surface debris that cannot sustain serious life. The wind blows it away “like chaff” and nothing enduring can take root.  

Whereas the things of God, the teaching of Scripture, the life of Christ, are an everlasting stream that has sustained countless generations through trials of every kind. Almost a year into this pandemic there are days when we may feel as though we are withering on the branch. But even now we have what we need to flourish and grow in Christ, though it may seem that our roots need to dig a little deeper.  

The great vocation of Christian communities in times of trial, is to be trees planted by streams of water that do not wither or withdraw. Instead, we are called to hold out our branches to a hurting world and to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. May God continue to nourish and enliven us from the river of life that flows through the Church to all the nations.