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Apple tree

Pastoral Messages | October 24, 2017

In preparation for this coming weekend, a member of our communication team asked me for my favorite Martin Luther quotes. We will be commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the day the Luther, a monk in Germany, nailed 95 Theses to his town’s church doors. It was an event, among many events, that helped the sparks of reformation turn to wildfire, transforming European Christianity, beginning not just the Lutheran Christian Church, but Protestantism.

Thankfully, Luther left us lots of words to quote, and to teach, inspire, and form us (and also to reject). My favorite quote of Luther’s might not even be truly his words, but I still love it. He is thought to have said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would fall to pieces, I would plant an apple tree.”

Hope. These are words of such hope. The kind of hope that despite an unknown (and maybe terrifying) future, we can invest ourselves in bringing life and beauty into our today. It’s not just a beautiful ecological commitment, a care for God’s beloved created world. We don’t have to let our fear of the future keep us from acting in love, planting life right now. Luther trusted so deeply in life, in resurrection, that not even seemingly certain destruction would keep him from planting a tree. That’s hope.

And then there is the quote of Luther’s that I can only remember because my mom once gave me a pair of socks with it on them: “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Courage. Luther began as just a teacher and pastor in a not-so-important little town in Germany, just trying to love his people and tell them about Jesus. He was catapulted into our history books because of his unfathomable courage to risk everything for the truth he found in Jesus.

God’s people have been gifted with this courage from the very beginning. It’s the kind of holy courage that helped David stand before Goliath, empowered Esther to convince the King to save her people from genocide, gave Mary the capacity to say “yes” to birthing the Messiah, transformed Paul from persecuting Christians to baptizing them, and on and on and on through the generations.

As we commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I pray we can look back to the faith of those who came before us, and let their example lead us. We are the next in a long line of people of hope and courage, believing that our actions today can help shape a better tomorrow.

We can serve our neighbor, build relationships with strangers, love our enemies, protect our vulnerable creation, and more – all acts of planting trees of life and freedom and joy even if it seems like the world is falling apart around us. With courage, we can risk standing up, standing with, and standing for the things we believe in, and alongside the most vulnerable.

By grace we are saved. We are loved no matter what. We are forgiven and our lives have purpose. That’s all Luther needed to know to take on all the powers that kept people from knowing the love of God in Jesus. And that’s all we need, too. Thankfully, it’s the gift God gives, to live as people with hope and courage.

Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

2 Comments on “Apple tree”

  • Diana Holland

    October 26, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you for such a pleasant feel good message and for sharing the same.

  • David DeWit

    October 26, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks, Sara, for a real “upper.”

Leave a Reply to David DeWit Cancel Reply

Isaiah 53:4-12

4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

And our sorrows He carried;

Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

He was crushed for our iniquities;

The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

And by His scourging we are healed.

6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

Each of us has turned to his own way;

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

To fall on Him.

7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He did not open His mouth;

Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

So He did not open His mouth.

8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

And as for His generation, who considered

That He was cut off out of the land of the living

For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

Because He had done no violence,

Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10But the LORD was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.

Psalm 91:9-16

9For you have made the LORD, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

10No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

11For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

12They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

14“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

15“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

16“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Hebrews 5:1-10

The Perfect High Priest

1For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;2he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;3and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.4And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,

“YOU ARE MY SON,

TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”;

6just as He says also in another passage,

“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER

ACCORDING TOTHE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

7In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Mark 10:35-45

35James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, *came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.”36And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”37They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.”38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”39They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.40“But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

41Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John.42Calling them to Himself, Jesus *said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.43“But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.45“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Bartimaeus Receives His Sight