(Author’s note: This post was originally written for the January 2017 issue of the Cross and Tower, the monthly newsletter of First United Methodist Church Winnfield, LA. The entire newsletter can be read here: Cross and Tower January 2017 )
Recently, I have been thinking quite a bit about a tree in my neighborhood. I’m not sure what kind of tree it is (though I have a suspicion), and the truth is botany was never one of my strong points. What got me thinking about this tree is the way it looks. As I write this in mid-December, several top branches of the tree are bare of leaves, as a result of some of the freezes and cold weather that we have experienced. The middle part of the tree is a kaleidoscope of yellow, red, and brown leaves still attached to the tree. The lower branches of the tree still have green leaves on them. It is as if the three seasons of summer, fall, and winter are reflected in this one tree at the same time.
But, I know that this will not last long. Soon it will grow colder. The nights longer. The winter winds will blow. The tree will lose all of its leaves, and it will seem to sleep through the winter, only to be reborn and resurrected in the spring. No matter how difficult and painful it is, no matter how hard we want to hang on to summer or fall or winter, change is inevitable.
Watching this process of change in this tree that I drive by everyday reminded me that in this month of January, millions of people will make resolutions to change something about themselves. Maybe it is their weight, or the way they spend their time or money, or even their future. But, like the tree, this process of change is a slow and difficult one. Statistics tell us that these almost all of these resolutions that we make will last only a matter of weeks, if that long.
Likewise, change is a slow and difficult process as we seek to follow Jesus. But it is possible. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”(NRSV) Through Christ, there is hope for a positive change in our lives and in the world around us. The founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, called this process of changing to become more like Jesus Sanctifying Grace, that grace that helps us grow and mature in our faith.
Pay attention to the changes in the world going around you. Make a resolution to change something in your life. Decide to start today to claim the new creation that God has created us to be in Jesus Christ and allow God’s sanctifying grace to abound in your life. Take a lesson from a tree that change is a process and does not happen easily, nor overnight. You could be the one that is reborn and resurrected, not just the tree!
Seeking change for the better,