Trees – lots of them!

Triggered by the crop of acorns from the oak tree in our garden there has been something of a theme running through my three years serving as Assembly Moderator. As those of you who I have visited over the last three years already know I decided at the beginning of my term of service to plant a tree in a nature reserve in Yorkshire for every church I P1000140visited or worked with. That Nature Reserve – Brockadale, near Pontefract and belongingP1000125 to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – now has about 150 trees planted in the name of the United Reformed Church. My husband, Rod and I have been to help, though at the time of planting it is true to say that what we plant look more like twigs than trees.

P1000124We have been twice to help with the planting, the last time being just before Easter when about two dozen people gathered on a windy but fortunately, sunny day to plant 600 trees in total. Fifteen different species had been chosen including Hazel, Gelder Rose, Aspern, Bulace, Field Maple. There are different reasons for the choices, some like the Purging Buckthorn because they attract a specific type of butterfly (the Brimstone), some – including Lime and the rare Wild Service Tree – because they have historically been a part of the wild wood in this area and the aim is to restore the habitat as nearly as possible to its original state. One of the things which never ceases to amaze me about the wonderful creation God has given us is the way in which every part has a distinctive and yet interdependent place in the whole.

Those acorns from our garden have allowed me to talk in small churches about how God grows mighty oaks – even mighty forests – from a single acorn. I have used the parable of the mustard seed in the same way but always, whatever the seed or plant, as a reminder about our dependence on God for our future. Nothing in nature grows without his provision of air, water and nutrients and we often say when we begin a course of action about which we are hesitant ‘if it is of God it will succeed’.

As we have planted the trees we have joined people who care very much about the environment but who are not church goers, ‘why are you involved’ they ask which gives a wonderful opportunity to explain something of the shared concern for God’s fragile creation. Planting trees, I believe, says something about our care for the environment but is only a very small part of what we need to do – let’s never forget, God’s creation needs our care in all sorts of ways.

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