This fall my congregation, Charleswood Mennonite Church, turned 50. To mark the occasion we celebrated with good stories, food, music, fun, and ritual. The ritual that completed our Sunday morning worship included planting a Linden tree to mark the occasion. The linden tree has long symbolized peace, justice, and truth, so our linden will remind keep reminding us of the vision God has for us, and the kind of roots we are trying to grow.
I was deeply moved by the litany and prayer Cornel Rempel, our first pastor and current elder offered us for this occasion. I share it here for you to own, no matter the age of your congregation or the type of tree that you connect with when you think about roots and vision:
Tree Planting Litany
Leader: As this Linden tree becomes deeply rooted in rich Manitoba soil,
People: may our life of faith remain deeply rooted in the Anabaptist tradition of the Christian faith.
Leader: As the tree grows and spreads its branches,
People: may we continue to branch out to include members of various cultures and languages with an attitude of acceptance without prejudice.
Leader: As the Linden tree is known for its fragrance,
People: we trust that a spirit of love, acceptance and joy will be sensed among us even without spoken words.
Leader: As the tree lives not only for itself but emits oxygen for the benefit of other living things,
People: we commit ourselves not only to be nurtured but to be life-giving and nurturing of others.
Leader: As the tree provides shelter from the storm and shade from scorching heat,
People: we commit the church to be a community of refuge and provide comfort for people in physical pain, mental anguish and spiritual conflict.
Leader: As the tree adds beauty to this place,
People: we, as a community of faith, aspire to enhance the Charleswood community.
Leader: As the Linden tree is known to be hardy,
People: we trust that we will not only endure but thrive as a living body.
Leader: As birds will nest in the branches of this tree to raise their young,
People: may we provide a spiritual home where children will be richly and safely nurtured.
Leader: As the wood of the Linden tree is fine grained, soft and workable without splintering,
People: may we remain pliable and open to be shaped in God’s image.
Leader: As the flowers, leaves and wood have medicinal qualities,
People: may our fellowship be a balm for spiritual and emotional wounds.
Leader: As the meaning of the name “linden” is lenient or yielding,
People: may we willingly yield to the prompting of the spirit in service and prayer.
Lord, we desire to be like a tree, deeply rooted in the soil of your creation, a tree that yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. As we look forward to the next fifty years we commit ourselves to be faithful in discerning your will, fruitful in service in far off places and near at hand, and joyful in the life we share with each other. As this tree grows in height, in strength and beauty, by your grace we commit ourselves to grow in spirituality, generosity and a spirit of good will. In the spirit of the living Christ, Amen.