When I was a little girl, my Dad and I would take walks in the park or golf course and pick up pecans from the ground. Then we would come home and sit down together on the floor in front of the fire and crack them open. But I only learned recently that pecan trees do not produce pecans every year. According to Robin Wall Kimmer in her book Braiding Sweetgrass, pecan trees belong to a category of trees called “mast fruit.” That means they save up sugar and then when the right year comes along, they produce pecans. But each tree doesn’t decide this alone. Instead, all the trees in the grove, in the park, on the golf course and across the city produce pecans all at once. Scientists are not quite sure why. But according to Kimmer, the trees show us the “power of unity. What happens to one, happens to all. We can starve together or feast together. All flourishing is mutual.”

When I heard this I immediately thought of the church. We are more than a collection of individual lives. We are the body of Christ. We flourish together and we fall together. For 100 years, folks have gathered in a unity bound by God’s spirit and discovered strength and grace to love and serve at 61st and Ward Parkway. We have weathered wars, social upheaval, and a global pandemic. Some years, we produced much fruit and some years we stored up the sugar.

The metaphor extends outward as well. We thrive as a church as our neighborhood thrives and our neighborhood thrives when we serve the community well as a vibrant hub of life for teens, tots, the elderly, single adults, families.

And now as we watch the surge of the Delta variant in our region and nation, we see again that “what happens to one, happens to all.” The amount of illness in our midst is heartbreaking and frustrating.

Kimmer says of the pecan trees, “there are no soloists.” The apostle Paul says the same thing about humanity when he writes in Ephesians 4, “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worth of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Grace and Peace,

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