the forest-tree commission

5 06 2011

The ascension is a funny old thing. Possibly the most important thing in the world. Well, apart from the erm, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and other rhyming words. Anyway, more on that here. Today I thought I’d try a different way to explain how the ascension means Jesus is King of the world when it looks like he’s out to lunch. And it’s all tied up with the Great Commission

Chequers Tree (© Andrew Dunn)

There was once a man who bought a forest. He paid a huge price for this forest. But people laughed at him. Because it wasn’t a forest, it was vast wilderness. There was nothing growing except some weeds and scrubland bushes.

 His friends tried to help. This is not a forest, they said. To turn this into a forest why not take some mud from the ground, and fashion it into the shape of a tree. They showed him. The clay tree was rather impressive. But it did nothing. It did not grow, it did not seed, it didn’t even blow in the wind. In fact, soon it dried out and crumbled to the ground.

They had another idea. Then they suggested he take some of the weeds and bushes and twist them together into the shape of a tree. It was rather impressive. But it did nothing. It did not grow, it did not seed, it did blow in the wind but the wind dried it out and it soon crumbled to the ground.


Smiling, the man took 12 seeds from his pocket. Oak. Birch. Ash. Cherry. Pine. Holding them he imagined all his land covered in this rich mixture of trees. This will make a beautiful forest, he thought to himself.

 He set to work. He dug a small hole, and in the centre of his land he planted the acorn. Then he planted all of his seeds across his land. He gazed across the wilderness. It looked no different. Give it time, he thought. He watered his seeds.

 Some people came by. They laughed at him: how’s your forest coming along, they mocked. I can see a beautiful forest, he said. Most people laughed, and moved on. Some, however, stayed. They were… intrigued. The man and his new friends watered them, tended them, protected them.  And as time went by, the seeds began to grow.

Soon, when the 12 trees blew in the wind, they dropped their own seeds. Some of these seeds landed in good soil, and began to grow. Other small trees grew around the now established original 12 trees.

When this began to happen, the man told his friends he needed to go on a journey to oversee the growth of the forest. He needed to see the big picture. He told them that he was still the owner of this forest, and was entrusting them to tend it.

But it’s not  really a forest, they said, it’s a huge area of wasteland with a few trees in. The others are right.

It will be a forest, he replied, and I want you to tend the forest from its central oak through the wilderness to the edges of my land.

So the man who owned the not-yet-forest entrusted its growth to his friends, whom he had taught. As time went by the trees became a copse, and the copse a forest. There were big trees and small trees and clearings, and the forest attracted birds and insects and animals of all shapes and sizes.

Over time the man’s friends passed on their knowledge of tending and growing the forest to their children, and their children… and so the trees grew and grew and grew.

It turned out that the man really had bought a forest after all.

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2 responses

6 06 2011
carol

Hi Kevin,

Re the ascension

I have always in the past focused my attention on Jesus disappearing from view in the clouds and the message that he will return in the same way…this year I have been thinking about what happened when Jesus entered heaven for His Coronation…imagine the JOY…the EXCITEMENT…the PARTY that must have accompanied the celebrations…better I bet than anything we can ever think or imagine!!!

7 06 2011
Eddie Green

Great reflection and reminds me of a meditation I am using a lot at the moment in different contexts here:

http://www.future-shape-of-church.org/?e=2

Oh and /follows.

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