The following post is based on some reflections after my first few months here at Weller UMC. Most of this text was contained in my first pastor’s report to our annual charge conference, which was held on 24 September.
One of the joys of being appointed to a historic church like Weller is recalling the long track record this church has serving the local community in the name of Jesus Christ. I thought about this after a recent tour of the Gettysburg National Military Park where I learned about “witness trees.” As our guide explained it, these are the trees that were present at the time of the battle and are still standing today, thus their designation as “witness trees.” We know about them from traditions handed down by those who were present at the time and from photographs taken in the days that followed. There are only a handful of these “witness trees” remaining now; so few, in fact, that the park service does not like to identify them for fear they might be vandalized.
I like to think of Weller UMC, and our other historic churches, as “witness trees” for Jesus Christ. Planted by faithful followers years ago, we were watered and nurtured by generations of disciples past who lived into the vision of God’s Kingdom. Like the “witness trees,” we go through seasons of steady growth and periods of drought and even contraction. But whether we experience times of plenty or times of want, we look with hope to the one God who “turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water” (Psalm 107:35).
Unlike those ancient trees at Gettysburg, however, we do not try to keep our existence a secret. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we cannot. Because as witnesses to the transforming love of God in our own lives, we have a charge to keep by sharing the Good News of God’s love for all Creation that is demonstrated in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In all we do, we seek to bear witness to the One who bore our sins upon another tree. That tree, the Cross of Christ, itself bore witness to the steadfast love God extends to all people and the new life that comes through faith in Him who loves us beyond all measure.
Weller continues to be a “witness tree” for Jesus Christ in Thurmont and beyond. . Our joyful worship services give glory to God and our music program for all ages enriches our lives as we praise our Lord and Savior. Our Vacation Bible School reached 25 young people with the love of God in Christ this summer. Our people give of their time, money and other resources to several local charities that help the least, last and lost of Frederick County.
All of this is well and good, but it is our love for God and our passion to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ that keeps this “witness tree” going and growing.
I look forward to the days to come and all God has in store for us as we journey along the Way of discipleship, serving together in God’s very good Creation.