Last Sunday after church I was walking down by the River Spey when I noticed when I noticed this small branch protruding from the bough of a mature tree. The leaves on the “twig” are characteristic of a rowan or mountain ash tree but when I looked up into the canopy of the tree I was surprised to see that the tree was actually of another species, an alder I think. I was reminded of Romans chapter 11 v11, where Paul describes Gentile Christians as wild olives branches that have been grafted into the root of Israel. This rowan gives the impression of having been grafted into the larger tree, though probably a seed lodged in the bark during a flood where it had been damaged by debris, and somehow managed to germinate and tap into the tree’s sap. This time of year is when some parts of the Christian media remind us of the autumn feasts of the Jewish calendar. We in the West tend to forget about how Jewish the early church actually was. To those who came to faith at Pentecost there would have been only a few proselyte converts to Judaism would not have been ethnically Jewish. A few exceptions which proved the rule. The idea that the majority of believers in any given church would not be Jewish would have unthinkable in the weeks and months after Pentecost. Paul had to tread a careful line between the Jew and the Gentile. In writing to the Roman Christians one has to remember that the Jews had been expelled from Rome c41 AD and had only recently been allowed back when he wrote his letter. Hence Paul had to remind them (the Gentile Christians in Rome) that they had been grafted into Israel. Back in Jerusalem there were still many who had great difficulties in accepting that Gentiles could really become believers without being subject to the whole Jewish Law. To them a Gentile was as alien to as the rowan is alien to the alder. They saw Gentile Christians as a threat to their Jewish identity, rather like those in Europe today who feel threatened by the current tide of immigration.
Another thing I reflected upon was whether the rowan had there for many years or not, as it is not clear as to how much in the way of nutrients it is able to receive from its host. Could it be effectively a bonsai unable to grow after an initial spurt? There are too many Christians who are spiritual bonsais, they lack a sufficient quantity of spiritual food rarely reading their Bibles. If they watch the Christian media they choose to see programmes entertain them by tickling their emotions where the personality of the speaker is often greater than the message. Together with a lack of a prayer life and other good habits leading to spiritual anorexia.
David Rose. 2015