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Planting a ‘tree’ Today Benefits All

August 30, 2018

Pastor Scott McAnally

Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, is reputed to have said, “If the world was going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.”

Many of our faith traditions have similar sayings attributed to different people of those respective traditions. What we can take away from our personal faith tradition is to do something good for the world today, regardless of what tomorrow may be.

Faith communities across faith traditions (not just Christian) often are the significant partners in communities doing something good today.

Over the past year or so, the faith communities in Broomfield have had public gatherings for one reason or another — from housing projects to expansions. I have sat in and witnessed several of these gatherings and have heard a lot of people talk about what is wrong with faith communities.

I am the first to say that faith communities across faith traditions are not perfect. We are human institutions run by humans. Every Sunday, I tell my congregation, “We are a community of imperfect people trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus together.”

Most faith traditions have wounds and scars that have occurred over time, and we deeply grieve those moments.

That said, I spent time in reflection this past summer asking myself the question, “What would Broomfield look like (or any other community), if there were no faith communities?”

I think of the many non-profits that exist who depend on faith communities for significant resources — both in funds and materials (food, clothing, toys, etc.).

Where would these resources come from if faith communities were not here? A Precious Child, Broomfield FISH, North Denver Cares Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity, and Sister Carmen are just a few non-profits in Broomfield that partner with faith communities.

Faith communities are often on the front lines that point people to Health and Human Services and other resources offered by our city and county. Where I currently serve, I wonder about the two- to-three people per week that come in asking for gas or grocery money or a room in a motel while they wait for more permanent housing to become available. Where would they go for that assistance if the faith community were not present?

While we may be quick to say more traffic, more noise, more this or that, faith communities in the ever-changing world are planting trees today.

It is not a secret that religion is not as important to our society as it once was. Faith traditions and communities are learning what that means for them. I firmly believe that faith communities want and are eager to continue to be “tree planters” in the community. It is up to them to make today’s world a better place not just for themselves, but for everyone — yes, everyone.

So, if you are looking to plant a tree, stop by and visit a faith community. There are lots of us around from many traditions. We are by no means perfect, yet we are working together to plant trees in the world today. So whatever tomorrow might bring, may we have just a little more hope.

Pastor Scott McAnally is lead pastor at Lutheran Church of Hope

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