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Might ‘deciduous’ describe congregations?

Conference Comments by

Jonna Jensen – Acting Conference Minister

As you may know, dear saints of the Pacific Northwest Conference, I have been serving you remotely from southeast Iowa. 

Because we’ve had a summer of drought, deciduous trees here are ahead of their usual schedule. 

Fall colors are appearing.  Leaves will be falling early.

My mind wandered today to imagine what humans who had never seen deciduous trees before thought the first time they saw something strange going on with the leaves. 

Did they think the strange new reds and golds and oranges were beautiful? 

Did they think they were forever?  Were they delighted?  Or, worried? 

Was there perhaps some disagreement over what this strangeness was all about? 

The spring shoots were edible.  The dry orange ones probably tasted yucky.

What did they think when the leaves started falling off?  That seems like an easier guess to me. 

Leaves dropping off trees wouldn’t look like a good thing.

When the last leaves fell, what could it possibly mean other than that the tree was dead? 

What could it possibly mean when the leaves on all the trees were gone? 

Were the humans afraid that they would be the next to go?

It was a long time until spring, if the humans stayed.

We’ve long stopped fearing autumn colors and falling leaves. 

We “get” what deciduous is all about. 

It’s not a word we often use to describe congregations. 

It’s not a word we use to describe the Church. 

I wonder if our minds might wander and wonder a bit this fall about Deciduous Church. 

The first time we see our leaves changing, what do we think?  What do we feel? 

Maybe we raise prayerful “oohs” and “aahs” at the beautiful color changes. It might be a delightful surprise. 

Maybe we continue to hold a strong preference for the beautiful shades of green. 

Maybe the oranges and reds worry us. 

When the leaves fall off and the tree looks like it’s dying, and when the leaves have all fallen off and the tree looks dead, even though we know what deciduous is, we may grieve.  We may fear. 

Winters can be long.  Especially winter nights.

If there will be falling leaves near your home,

I wonder about bringing one in to place near the spot where you most often pray. 

If there will be falling leaves near the place where your congregation worships, I wonder about bringing some to your altar. 

I wonder if we might worship in these weeks as the Easter People we are.

May we listen for the mercies of wisdom from the falling leaves.

I’m listening alongside you...


Pacific NW United Church of Christ Conference News © October 2023


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