This fortnight's blog comes from Rev Kim Ratcliffe, explaining something exciting starting at Monton Methodist Church.
Scripturally trees are, as we know, placed in many passages of scripture. From the very beginning of time, in Genesis Chapter 2, Adam was forbidden by God to eat from the tree of knowledge. In Isaiah 55:12 (KJV), "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." and in Revelation 22:2 "On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month".
Over a few months now I have been speaking at some of our church meetings and asking if it was a possibility for us, as a church community, to begin the "Life of a Tree" project. After explaining some of what this would entail and with careful thought and consideration, it was decided at Church Council that, yes, from JMA Sunday through to Easter Day we at Monton could commit ourselves to this project. I don't expect you to understand or 'get' this project at the very beginning but I ask for your openness to explore what we can offer to the 'life of a tree' living its life within our church community. It’s on the left-hand side of the altar.
The tree, that has been loving made by Frank Shepherd,, began its 'life' here with us on the 8th of September, the Sunday that we annually celebrate Junior Mission for All. I thank Frank for taking on this challenge! I am certain that with our vision and creativity we will be able to dress the tree and work with each other to ensure that we embrace the idea and let it become a part of and not distract us from worship in any way.
The Life of a Tree story began up in Scotland at my sister's church in Clydebank; their minister, Roddy, created the idea and when I saw it at worship, I loved the concept. I had conversation with Roddy to see if his idea was transferable to where I was in Ashton and two churches there went with the idea and weren't disappointed.
I have spoken to my sister and asked her to share with Roddy, who has moved on from Clydebank some time ago, that we are going to take on the project at Monton. The small seed of an idea was planted up in Scotland and it will develop into how we choose to use it.
Our tree will go through the different seasons as well as the Christian Festivals and events in our church, it will be with us up until Easter. It will be part of the whole of our church life and it won't be with us forever, just until Easter. I thank those of you who may like to help practically as well as creatively, I look forward to talking with you and supporting you as you come forward with ideas for dressing the tree throughout the coming months.
As JMA enter into this new and exciting time of a new Church Year we pray that the seeds that JMA have sown over many, many years with the help of its collectors and leaders, may continue to grow and become a part of where our young people lives are now and where they are heading towards with the love of Jesus in their hearts as they remain in and go into the world as it is today.
JMA resources have been revamped and according to Local Preachers and Worship Leaders E News, the resources include, "a fantastic range of videos, PowerPoints, worksheets, prayers and hymns" the resources also include a new Commissioning Service.
As we continue to celebrate the beginning of a new church year let us continue to "encourage our JMA collectors as they help the whole Church to show Jesus' love to people all around the world."