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Posts Tagged ‘new creation’

 

Nature and Nurture 

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! –2 Corinthians 5:17

About twelve years ago, my family went on vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was a wonderful trip and included stops in the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse. We stayed in a cabin, deep in the Black Hills, and soaked in the stunning beauty of the area. The Black Hills Spruce is a native tree, known for its short needles and deep-green color. On our last morning there, my children and I borrowed a kitchen knife and went in search of seedlings wanting to migrate to Kansas. We found 5 yearlings, each only a few inches tall, growing in the rocks beside the road – a certain death sentence as they grew. We carefully dug them up, wrapped them in wet paper towels, and placed them in a plastic bag to retain moisture for their journey south. Once home, I replanted them in pots and nurtured them in a protected area near our sunroom.

Today, the four survivors are about 3’ tall and are happy, thriving participants in the Hildenbrand ecosystem. What is interesting about our adopted trees is that they no longer look like Black Hills Spruce, even though that is what they are, genetically. Instead of the short, dark-green needles characteristic of their species, they have longer, bluish needles, much like a Blue Spruce. Clearly, they are still spruce trees, but they no longer resemble their siblings in the Black Hills. Their new environment has changed them into a different version of their old selves. In the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, they have become a new creation!

There is a lot of research regarding whether how we are born – our genetics – or how we are raised – our environment – is most influential towards what we become. Obviously, some things will not change regardless of the environment. My spruce trees will never become oaks, raccoons, or granite statues. Within their genetic make-up, however, they have some flexibility. Becoming a Christian will not convert us, by itself, into a concert pianist or a professional athlete. Following the example of Christ, however, will help us become a more complete version of our self. Just as the new environment changed my spruce trees into something they would not otherwise have become, a good Christian setting will help us grow in ways not likely otherwise. We may look similar, but our lives will turn in a different direction.

My spruce trees were changed from the inside out. Living with God as the center of our lives does the same. We no longer live just for ourselves, or as if this life is all there is. We do not “hang on” for the end of the workday, nor do we simply hope to cruise into the weekend. As new creations, our lives have a renewed purpose and a deeper meaning, and we have a divine legacy to follow. Are Christians perfect? Certainly not, but we have a perfect leader to mold and shape us into useful vessels to carry the kingdom of God.

Come home to church this Sunday. Let the old pass away and become new!

Front CoverFinding Grace in an Imperfect World is a soulful collection of Scripture-based meditations and songs – a powerful tool for building or strengthening a relationship with God.

Now available at the downtown FUMC-Lawrence office, at http://www.ContemplatingGrace.Com, at Amazon.com, and other media outlets.                                                   

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Life Worship Notes—January 2, 2104 

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

It is January 1 as I type this note. I look out the window on a cold, colorless day. The sky is an oppressive grey, the grass is brown, and the trees are bare. The temperature is twenty degrees, but a stiff north wind makes it feel much colder. At first glance, it is a dismal time of the year—lifeless and depressing. It is difficult to imagine anything good resulting from a day like today, or even from this time of the year.

However, as I look closely at the branches of the River Birch outside my window, I see the buds are noticeably swollen. There are buds the size of robin’s eggs on the Magnolia tree in the front yard. If I part the brown blades of grass on the frozen ground, I see a green base. As I push aside leftover leaf piles on the flowerbeds, I see the tender shoots of early bulbs preparing to push through the brown earth. On closer inspection and in spite of the current conditions, life is preparing to POP! Everything good in our lives takes time to develop, and everything springs forth in its time.

I often wonder why Christmas Day occurs in late December. The environment in much of the northern hemisphere can be overly harsh for such a joyous celebration at that time of year. There is no solid evidence in the Bible for the date or season of Christ’s birth. I have heard some researchers say it was likely March; others say June. Personally, I say late December is perfect. The birth of Jesus was like a divine seed planted into the earth. It lay dormant for a time and then, in its season, burst forth in all its glory. Two thousand years later, the fruit of his life, death, and resurrection continues to feed hungry souls and heal broken lives.

Late December is a spectacular time, for those willing to look deeper, beyond the greys and browns. It is a time of preparation for good things to come; a time of rest and renewal before spring bursts forth in all its colorful and dynamic glory. It is through the eyes of faith we know the seeds of that glory have already been sown. Those same eyes of faith help us recognize the Son of God in the form of a baby. New creations worth birthing come with a struggle. Being born again is not supposed to be easy; but through its trials, the new creation gains strength and resolve. Late December is a great time for Christmas. Stark and barren on the outside, but full of life within.

Come home to church this Sunday. It is warmth for the soul.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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