Beloved Members of St. Martin’s,
In Fishlake National Forest in Utah, in the south-central part of the state, there lives one of the oldest and largest organisms on Earth. It covers more than 106 acres, and is estimated to weigh 13 million pounds. It is also 80,000 years old, born in the Pleistocene epoch, during the last Ice Age. It has been alive for half the time that homo sapiens has roamed the planet.
He (for he is male) is a colony of Quaking Aspen that has been named “Pando” (Lat. “I spread”) by the scientists who have studied him since his discovery in 1968. Above the surface of the ground, he appears as if he is simply 47,000 individual trees. However, under the surface of the ground, Pando is actually one genetically identical organism that spreads via vegetative reproduction, developing a complex and expansive root system that from which shoots rise to pierce the surface of the ground.
Pando was already old and wise by the time that stories of Moses were being passed from generation to generation at the juncture of Asia and Africa. And still he grew-- even while, half a world away, a wandering teacher named Y’shua began calling disciples along the banks of a small sea called Galilee. And he still grows and flourishes today.
Think of the habitat Pando provides—the life teeming in from his canopy to his roots, the oxygen he produces, the air he cleans, the erosion he prevents, the music he makes with his quaking leaves in the breeze, the beauty he offers every season. Now reflect on how St. Martin’s similarly blesses the communities we touch—together.
You know that old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?” Sometimes we have to remember that the trees ARE the forest, just like we are called to remember that being a Christian requires a commitment to being rooted in a community of seekers. Being Christian doesn’t require having all the answers or even any answers. Being a Christian DOES require us to spread our roots—by the willingness to walk alongside each other, to persevere in loving each other and supporting each other in grace, fellowship and love.
Like Pando, St. Martin’s is called to be both rooted in place and to spread outward. St. Martin’s is the place where we come to worship and to learn and to fellowship, absolutely—but, more importantly, it’s the place from which we minister to the world around us. That’s why our commitment to the financial independence and flourishing of St. Martin’s is so important, not just in our own lives, but in the lives of those who live around us, in the communities our ministries bless.
Whether you worship in person or online, whether you are young or old, whether you have been here for five weeks or five years or fifty-five years, your engagement and support MAKES St. Martin’s not just a place where people gather, but a place where people are fed. A place where people are loved, rooted in community, one body in Christ.
As we conclude our second week of our Annual Financial Campaign, as you continue to pray daily and reflect upon the ways that St. Martin’s has made a difference in your life and enabled you to make a difference in the lives of others, I invite you to envision the ways St. Martin’s can continue to grow and flourish like Pando, through your bold financial support, rooted in the abundance you have received, reflecting the abundance of being rooted in community.