While on vacation last week, I was invited to see my brother’s newly built home. For the past year, he and his family lived with his father-in-law after selling their home and waiting for a new house to be built. This house was supposed to have been done around the first of the year, but was finally completed enough to move in around mid-May. There are still projects to be done, such as trim work, yard, and even some of the exterior siding.
But even with the inconveniences of a home yet complete, they are happy to have their own space. Living in a temporary mode was difficult. Lifestyles were cramped for both the family and the father-in-law. Thankfully everyone survived the transition. Like a plant, it was as if the family had been transplanted from nature (their last home) into a pot (temporary home) and then back into a garden (their new home).
For those of you familiar with gardening, you probably recognize the difficult process of transplanting. Trauma occurs to the plant as it is uprooted and moved. And with all of the care in the world, there is no guarantee that it will survive the process.
According to Webster, to ‘transplant’ means to “move or transfer (something) to another place or situation, typically with some effort or upheaval.” The process is a strain on that which is transplanted as it is removed from the norms of its environment and must adapt to the new.
Look at the back of your bulletins at the first reading from Ezekiel. “Thus says the Lord God: I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of a cedar; I will set it out. I will break off a tender one from the topmost of its young twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it, in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar. Under it every kind of bird will live; in the shade of its branches will nest winged creatures of every kind.”
The sprig doesn’t know it, but its growth is limited at the lofty top of the cedar tree. When the Lord transplants and nurtures the sprig, it becomes a mighty cedar that bears fruit and provides shelter and shade for the birds.
How much control did the sprig have in this situation? None! God is in complete control. I can imagine the sprig resisting with all of its might, not wanting to be removed from the comfort of the tree tops. But the sprig could not recognize the limitations that prevented it from becoming so much more than a branch until it was relocated and adapted into a new environment.
As Christ followers we also experience the transplanting process. We (like the sprig) are transplanted from a ‘ME’ centered life to the “HE” centered life. Perspectives, beliefs, and convictions will run contrary to the priorities of the world. Hearts of thankfulness and gratitude take over our being and we joyfully acknowledge that God loves us and wants the best for us, forgiving us of our sins in order to release us from burdens.
We cannot take credit for what we have or what we have done any more than the sprig can take credit for its transformation. Back to the Ezekiel text, “All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.”
When our trust is in Christ, we will be transplanted from the priorities of the world. Our hope will rise out of temporary things and into Him. A recognizable change occurs in us. Turn one last time to the back of the bulletin and read the last verse of the Second Reading with me. “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” Praise God for the peace and joy that comes through the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Amen.