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Roots


“Roots” Kirkin’ of the Tartans 2018 Mark 4:2-9 Ephesians 3:14-21 Colossians 2:6-10 (call to worship)

Years ago I planted a tree in our backyard... it was an apple tree (probably not the best of choices in a tree for our area and climate). It was never productive... but then, I’ve never been much of arborist.

The tree lasted a few years... but the whole time it was determined to lean over. It seemed healthy... the leaves were bright, no disease... it was nicely shaped. It was a pretty little tree! But a good rain... or a stiff wind... would lean the thing over.

Of course, I’d prop it up... I’d correct it’s lean using ropes and stakes. But take away the ropes and stakes... and the tree simply couldn’t hold its own. Unless I supported the tree, it would not stand.

I guess, in layman’s terms, the tree seemed top-heavy. Lots of leafy branches and heavy foliage above ground, but underneath, it turned out, there was a problem. After the tree died it became clear: the roots were the problem. The roots were weak. The root ball had never grown as it should, and the few roots that reached out for water and nutrients were insufficient to support all the stuff above. The soil conditions were less than ideal, and the red clay became a “bowl” that basically held in too much water and never allowed the roots to support the tree as they should.

I think the lesson here, for you and me, as followers of Christ, is obvious. Strong roots provide stability, and strength. And if that’s true for trees, it’s certainly true for followers of Jesus Christ.

We’ve been blessed with STRONG roots as a church! Roots that run deep... 181-years of growth... through good times and bad; through seasons of plenty and times of want. Our church has been affiliated with 4 different denominations, and 5 different presbyteries during those 18+ decades... and we’ve managed, with the Lord’s help, to weather it all.

Just think of all those who’ve come before us... all those who committed their lives to Christ as a result of the “roots” instilled in this place. Think of all the baptisms over 181 years... all the confirmations... all the weddings... and funerals - the highs and not-so-highs of life, all celebrated here. This place is in the business of nurturing roots. Roots that are desperately needed... because...

Roots strengthen and support us against the prevailing winds of change. When the storms of life blow our way - it’s our network of solid roots that holds us firm and keeps us straight. Beautiful branches and leafy canopies, no matter how attractive, fail to fortify us in the storms and tribulations and trials of life. It’s not the externals - or what others can see - that matters most. It takes deep, hearty, powerful roots, to keep us standing.

And that’s what Jesus was talking about concerning the plant that grew quickly, yet withered - in our Lesson from Mark’s gospel; it had a root problem... it couldn’t handle the blistering heat of the sun.

It’s why Paul offered one of the most beautiful prayers in the whole of God’s Word in Ephesians, imploring - crying out to God, that “out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And... that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Roots establish us... roots fill us to the measure of all the fullness of God!

And it’s why God’s Word was given to the Colossian Christians... a word to be “firmly rooted... built up... in Christ Jesus” (2:7). Strong roots, strong spiritual roots stabilize our faith. That’s why they’re so very important... without roots, without strong roots, we tend to lean over, we tend to wither, we tend to break - as we fall “captive [to the] hollow and deceptive philosophy... of this world, rather than {finding our strength, and purpose and roots} in Christ.”

Of course, before you get too excited, too “gung-ho” about running out and whipping up a strong set of roots... know this: it takes time. There’s no magic, instant formula... no Christian “miracle grow” for strong, established roots of faith.

It takes work... commitment... dedication; it takes discipleship! The process is slow... it’s methodical. It requires persistence and grit. Small steps and large faith.

But as we strive to grow in Christ... as you and I seek out opportunities for growth... and as we “spur” one another on (with encouraging words... with prayer and worship and accountability)... through both good times and the not-so-good; our roots will begin to take hold... and they’ll steadily grow into a firm, sturdy, unshakable foundation... that the winds and storms of this life cannot prevail against.

Let me ask you this morning... are you “rooted and established” - are you grounded in Christ? Are you actively cultivating the soil... through acts of faith that engage your head, your heart, your hands?

Listen: we’re all doing it - RIGHT NOW. Part of our discipleship is worship! We praise our Lord and Savior here... we’re offered instruction, direction, guidance here... we’re prayed for and we pray for others here... we’re encouraged here... we’re given a chance to use our giftings and graces for a greater purpose, here.

Of course, the truth is... sometimes we all need to be propped up. We all need to be supported in order to stand straight and tall. Our goal is to keep tending the soil, with the help of our brothers and sisters in Christ, until our roots, until our faith, is sturdy. And then... it’s our job to share our abundant and growing faith, with others.

These words are certainly true, and they’re worth hearing again:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”


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