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Weekly Update: September 9

Lessons from the Trees, Backyard Open Houses & Blood Drive!

Update from Pastor Sheldon MacGillivray

Dear Cornerstone Family,

It is quickly turning to fall here in KC as the weather moves toward sweater weather. It is one of my favorite seasons of the year. One of the best things about fall is watching the trees change color. My love for trees comes from spending my childhood days in the forests of Northern Ontario. The radiant cavalcade of autumn colors in Canada is astounding, but Colorado comes in a close second. One of my favorite Canadian artists is Tom Thomson. He loved the outdoors and spent his summers in the early 1900’s painting trees. He captured their story on canvas. Here is a sample below.

We can learn a lot from trees. The German author Herman Hesse masterfully wrote: 

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life."

Every tree has a story. Just think of the lodgepole pine. It is a unique species that got its name from Native Americans who used this tree to make their lodges. On average, they grow beyond 70 feet tall and usually are 2 feet in diameter. What makes them unique is their cones. Their cones contain the seeds that birth new trees, but that only happens when the cone is exposed to extreme heat. The extreme heat from a forest fire melts the resin that glued the cone shut. In God’s grand design, this tree brings new birth to the scorched earth, reminding us that new life can come from ruin. There is a hidden world of beauty in God’s design. This is our Father’s world, I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas—His hand the wonders wrought (from the first stanza of the hymn, "This Is My Father’s World"). 

When you find yourself wondering what God is doing, maybe you just need to take a walk and begin to look all around you. Observe and celebrate the joy of the dawning of a new day and in the quiet of the sound of a mourning dove. Or close your day by looking west and watching the setting of the sun over Kansas. "The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). The Lord speaks to us everywhere. There is a lot we can learn from a tree!

The radical truth of the existence of God isn’t just preached to us on Sunday; it’s preached every day through the beauty of the sunset, the power of the storm, the inexhaustible wings of the hummingbird, the hugeness of the mountain, the whisper of the breeze, the smell of the sizzling steak, the beauty of the petal of a rose, and so on. The power and clarity of creation’s message leaves no human being with an excuse. You have to work to deny God’s existence because it is so readily visible everywhere you look. God did this because he is a God of grace. He did this so that we would run to him and not from him. He did this so that we would recognize our position as his creatures and bow to his glory. He did this so that we would live in recognition of him.

—Paul David Tripp

Backyard Open Houses

We hope you will join us this Sunday evening for our Backyard Open House! We will enjoy the beauty of the outdoors together and hopefully catch a glimpse of one of those amazing Kansan sunsets, but most importantly, we will enjoy your presence with us. We have missed you and would love to see you in person. You can choose either Sunday the 13th or September 27. We will meet on both dates from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at 14204 Rosehill, Overland Park, 66221. 

Serve our Community September 17th

We will be hosting a Community Blood Drive on Thursday, September 17th from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the church library. Blood donations are in high demand. Space is limited and they will be practicing safe social distancing guidelines to make this possible. Click here to reserve your time!

Bold Faith Series Continues

Prayer is hard and it's even harder to be constant in prayer, but this week we will focus on moving beyond prayerlessness. We make a lot of excuses for our anemic prayers, but the God of creation is involved in our lives through prayer. God gives us hope, patience and prayer to help us in our times of trouble. Prayer is a gift that God has given. 

We will unwrap what that means this Sunday, so join us either online at 10:00 a.m. on YouTube or at our in-person worship gatherings at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. (RSVP here)!

For His Glory,

Sheldon MacGillivray

Lead Pastor, Cornerstone