Friday Focus 24.7.20

Friday Focus  24.7.20

Trees , big and small , are being noticed more as people take time to walk around their neighbourhoods. We could , I suppose, call them our quiet neighbours as they are there, growing and changing season by season and year by year and have also been there through many of the changes in our neighbourhood . I particularly like the unusual monkey puzzle tree and see a few of them when I am out walking. We don’t have many mango trees growing in  Greenock so I was interested to read an article a colleague shared about a particular mango tree photographed in Burkina Faso, in West Africa. It was a massive spreading tree, full and green  and in the photo it seemed that the whole village was gathered under its shade. The accompanying article spoke of the tree being the place to have a conversation or a meeting. Underneath its low hanging branches villagers also prepared food and did other work. The tree provided delicious fruit but also gave people somewhere to escape the intense sunlight and scorching heat (temperatures can reach 43 degrees centigrade). The women of the village are involved in producing Shea butter, used for cooking and cosmetic purposes and they often gather under the mango tree to make it. The writer of the article invited his readers to imagine stepping out of a very bright cloudless environment into the cool and the shade of the tree – almost like stepping into a cave. The writer concluded that watching the different ways the villagers used the tree was inspirational. ‘It made me realise that there are so many levels of benefit a single tree can have. It can provide nutrition, it can help people, it can bring people together. It is a very special thing’.

We don’t have mustard trees growing in Greenock either  but Jesus saw mustard trees and used them in the stories he told to give a picture of God’s kingdom …. For from the tiny mustard seed a large tree grew which offered shelter . We’ll be reading that parable along with a few other short parables from Matthew’s gospel on Sunday.  Mango trees and mustard trees… pictures of God’s kingdom for under their branches people have  found  nourishment,  hospitality, sharing, shelter and friendship. May we work and pray for God’s kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven.

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