by Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist & Superintendent
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; blossoming vines spread their fragrance. ~Song of Songs 2:11-13~
When my wife and I moved into our house in Vail, AZ outside of Tucson in December 2020, there was a new little tree planted in our front yard. It had some leaves but they were brown and drying and within a month or so they’d all fallen off, so the tree was completely bare – just a trunk with some dry branches and twigs attached. It looked like that tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas – does anybody remember that tree?
Now neither my wife nor I are gardeners and neither one of us has a good track record when it comes to keeping plants alive, and so we feared the worst. We feared that this little tree wouldn’t survive the transplant process, that it was dying if it wasn’t already dead.
Should we give it more water? Should we spread fertilizer around the trunk? Should we call over some deacons for the laying on of hands? What should we do?
But then the seasons changed. Winter passed, and spring arrived, and flowers started to bloom across the Sonoran Desert, and some little green buds appeared on this tree. And then those little green buds turned into leaves, and then little purple dots appeared, and soon our little tree was blooming with purple flowers, vital and alive and full of life.
It has been a long winter for the church, hasn’t it? And sometimes it’s felt like death. But we are an Easter people, and our God specializes in making all life new.
And so we’re learning to live with Covid, and people are emerging from isolation, and ministries are ramping up, and new opportunities are emerging, and new life is springing up in the Church, and the churches of the Desert Southwest Conference are ready for a new and different future.
Are you ready? Are you ready for what comes next?
Soon we’ll be gathering together online and in-person at the Mesa Convention Center to do the work of Annual Conference, and it will be wonderful to be together again. I’m not on the Sessions Committee that plans Annual Conference so I don’t know if singing Charles Wesley’s traditional Conference hymn ‘And Are We Yet Alive’ is on the agenda, but I will have that song in my heart throughout Annual Conference this year.
And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?
Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!
See you at Conference! And thanks for listening.