Archive for category #birdsofafeather

At Home in a Tree House

Mark 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know-how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables, he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. [NRSA: Mark 4:26-34]

The kingdom of God is like a flock of bird finding the home in a tree. 

One of my favorite parsonages as a child we only lived in for six months. The parsonage was built because the DS told my father the old house was too small to move a family into. (That DS never thought Mac would later become a DS.) The new parsonage was fun not because it was a brick ranch with lots of square feet and new appliances, it was a special place because there were plenty of building supplies leftover to build a treehouse.

My treehouse was nothing like Nelson’s Treehouses on television, it was a platform with crude walls and slanted roof, with a trapdoor and pull system to lift supplies up the six feet into the air. The rope ladder could be rolled up to keep friends safe and jealous neighbor bullies at bay. 

One of the early books I remember enjoying was, “We Were Tired of Living in a House” by Liesel Moak Skorpen, Joe Cepeda. It was a new book in 1969 and I was eager to imagine the new house we would next be moving to live in. 

Through the years I have lived in houses that church has provided our family. It is an interesting benefit of making it easy for pastors to move frequently and to remain, typically within sight of the church. When my father started his ministry the after the appointment was about two years. And now with housing allowances and longer tenures, we hold to an itinerate system of moving from church to church throughout a pastor’s career. With 53 years of my life having lived church-provided or funded housing. It is personally interesting to think about where we call home.

Mom always had a piece of needlework framed in every home, that reminded us of the quote, “Bloom where you are planted.” (Context/History)  [Is ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’ in the Bible? Danielle Bernock,, Contributing Writer] Its Origin and Meaning: The sentiment can be found in Scripture, but not the exact words: “bloom where you are planted.” The popular phrase means to be fruitful, make the best of life when it throws lemons at you, and do what’s right, even when it’s hard. Is ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’ in the Bible? Its Origin and Meaning: The phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” gets thrown around a lot. Many think it originated from the Bible, and others know this isn’t true. The sentiment can be found in Scripture, but not the exact words. An American graphic artist and illustrator made the phrase famous with her book, Mary Englebreit: The Art and the Artist, but she didn’t originate the phrase. An American radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey used the phrase a decade before Mary’s book, yet he was not the originator of it either. So, where did it come from? “Bloom Where You Are Planted” has a similar origin to the Celtic Cross — we only know some things and cannot confirm others. What Does “Bloom Where You Are Planted” Mean?

“Bloom Where You Are Planted” can mean various things depending on its usage.

To be fruitful, blossom, become all you were created to be. Make the best of what you have when life throws lemons at you. Do what’s right, even when it’s hard. Each has its place and even corresponding Scripture, which I’ll elaborate on.

1. Be Fruitful

Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), when he was the Bishop of Geneva is recorded as saying this: “Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.” As you can see, it’s not a direct quote of the idiom but carries its meaning.  I believe the words of St. Francis de Sales were inspired by words in the Bible. In the book of Genesis. After God created Adam and Eve, He blessed them and told them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). Another Scripture describes a believer’s fruitful flourishing by trusting in God. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Scripture and other writings such as these encourage us to be all God has made us be. 

2. Make the Best of Life

Using the phrase in this way encourages resilience. Sometimes life is hard. Things don’t always go according to plan. Even in less than wonderful situations, we have control over how we respond. Blooming where we are planted is to make the choice to respond in a positive manner. It’s in agreement with another familiar phrase about making lemonade when life throws you lemons. When many Israelites were exiled to Babylon, they were in a less than a wonderful situation. But God told them, in a way, to bloom where they were planted for that time. “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

3. Do What’s Right

Doing what’s right when it’s hard is — hard. Perhaps that’s why Paul gives this instruction in 1 Corinthians 7: 20-24, which is another place we find the sentiment of blooming where we are planted. This passage does not sanction human slavery, especially in the way slavery was practiced in the West during the 17th-19th centuries. Instead, this passage is a call to honor God above men. “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them” (1 Corinthians 7:20-24).

“Bloom Where You Are Planted” Doesn’t Mean to Stay Stuck

Blooming where you are planted doesn’t mean you can’t improve yourself or must stay stuck in an awful place. Let me remind you of the line above, “if you can gain your freedom, do so” (vs. 21). The Bible is full of words encouraging us to grow and change. There are times to bloom where we are planted, and times for us to be transplanted so we can bloom even better elsewhere. Just follow the Lord where he leads. The sentiment of the phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” has been around for centuries, but the first publication of the exact phrase cannot be verified.

Make you home in the Lord: The kingdom of God is a the place we are to feel at home. 

Music notes with solid fill

 This World Is Not My Home, by Jim Reeves

This world is not my home, I’m just passing through, My treasures are laid up, Somewhere beyond the blue

The Angels beckon me, From Heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore

Oh Lord, you know, I have no friend like you, If Heaven’s not my home, Then Lord what will I do

The Angels beckon me, From Heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home, In this world anymore.

Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Mary Reeves Davis

We have an important character to examine in this parable. The invitation is not to see a tree that is home to one bird but to all the birds of the air.

There are many types of birds, but the invitation is to share a common home. In our modern wisdom, we have come to believe that that means we are working to find some least common denominator of tolerance of the widest sample of diversity, but that is not our invitation.

The invitation is for us all to find our home in God. Period. Drop the mic and should stop here. 

One of the great opportunities of moving in ministry is the opportunity to review the items that fill our house and ask the question does this connected me to God’s or to the world? I’m I holding on to memory because I’m scared, afraid, or lonely, OR am I keeping reminders of the faith story that each of us is personally sharing throughout our lives?

There are experiences such as natural disasters, pandemics, death, as well the choices we make and the challenges we accept or avoid, make up our idea of home, and where we belong. 

The real message for the church today is this, in what tree do we find our home? Is it God’s tree, the world’s tree, or the world’s tree that we slap on God’s name?

The test to answer where we make our home is measure by God and not what is popular at any given time in human history. Are we building a home that draws on God’s blessing, FOR God’s blessing!

Our measure is NOT to find everyone the same branch, God gifts, entrusts and blesses us differently.

Our measure is NOT to use God’s purpose for the world’s purpose, for then it ceases to be God’s.

Finding our home in God is the present we seek. Find it by building your life in Gods word, with other birds like us who belong to God and not the world.

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